Monday, February 23, 2009

More on reverse migration in China

Today's New York Times reports again today on the migration reversal in China, as the economic slump forces so-called floating populations back to rural areas. The headline for Andrew Jacobs' story is "China Fears Rural Tremors as Migrants Flock from Coast," and the dateline is Tanjia, in Hunan Province. Jacobs reports that the government is taking steps to ameliorate rural hardship as many migrants flow back to their home villages. These steps include vocational training, crop subsidies, and an expansion of rural health care. He notes that the history of rural unrest in China is part of the reason for the government' s concern, citing peasants' roles in Mao's revolution.

Of particular interest to me was this statement reflecting urban attitudes toward rural Chinese. Thie statement is from the director of Zhuzhou’s employment center, who says he is much more concerned about his city's residents (suggesting the more permanent ones) than the migrants from rural China:
“The migrants don’t have a lot of expectations and they can always fall back on the land and their family savings.”
Jacobs goes on to observe that "[s]uch sentiments are common in China, where rural laborers are often viewed as dime-a-dozen workhorses capable of enduring enormous hardship."

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