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10.31.17

Down from the Mountains (Reader-Friendly Version)

Max Duncan
At 14 years old, Wang Ying doesn’t want to be a mother. She scowls darkly as her younger brother and sister squabble in the corner while she does the housework. But she grudgingly cleans up after them and cooks them a potato stew, which they eat...

Video

10.31.17

Down From the Mountains

Max Duncan
At 14 years old, Wang Ying doesn’t want to be a mother. She scowls darkly as her younger brother and sister squabble in the corner while she does the housework. But she grudgingly cleans up after them and cooks them a potato stew, which they eat...

Books

09.20.17

China’s Great Migration

Bradley Gardner
China’s rise over the past several decades has lifted more than half of its population out of poverty and reshaped the global economy. What has caused this dramatic transformation? In China’s Great Migration: How the Poor Built a Prosperous Nation, author Bradley Gardner looks at one of the most important but least discussed forces pushing China’s economic development: the migration of more than 260 million people from their birthplaces to China’s most economically vibrant cities. By combining an analysis of China’s political economy with current scholarship on the role of migration in economic development, China’s Great Migration shows how the largest economic migration in the history of the world has led to a bottom-up transformation of China.Gardner draws from his experience as a researcher and journalist working in China to investigate why people chose to migrate and the social and political consequences of their decisions. In the aftermath of China’s Cultural Revolution, the collapse of totalitarian government control allowed millions of people to skirt migration restrictions and move to China’s growing cities, where they offered a massive pool of labor that propelled industrial development, foreign investment, and urbanization. Struggling to respond to the demands of these migrants, the Chinese government loosened its grip on the economy, strengthening property rights and allowing migrants to employ themselves and each other, spurring the Chinese economic miracle.More than simply a narrative of economic progress, China’s Great Migration tells the human story of China’s transformation, featuring interviews with the men and women whose way of life has been remade. In its pages, readers will learn about the rebirth of a country and millions of lives changed, hear what migration can tell us about the future of China, and discover what China’s development can teach the rest of the world about the role of market liberalization and economic migration in fighting poverty and creating prosperity. —Independent Institute{chop}

In Rare Move, Chinese Think Tank Criticizes Tepid Pace of Reform

Chris Buckley
New York Times
These withering findings on China’s reforms come from a startling place: from within the government itself.

Depth of Field

03.22.17

Refugees from Myanmar, Migrant Workers, and the Lantern Festival

Ye Ming, Yan Cong & more from Yuanjin Photo
This month, we feature galleries published in February that showcase photographers’ interest in China’s borders and its medical woes, the lives of its minorities and their traditions and customs, and—in the case of Dustin Shum’s work—in a visual...

Depth of Field

02.16.17

Riding into the New Year

Yan Cong, Ye Ming & more from Yuanjin Photo
As preparations for the Chinese New Year got underway, Liang Yingfei set up a roadside studio and asked migrants traveling home by motorbike to stop for a quick photograph. While in Cambodia for the Angkor Photo Festival & Workshops, Jia...

Migrant-School Students Face Difficulty Getting Into College, Study Finds

Chen Shaoyuan and Li Rongde
Less than 6% of students in Beijing schools for migrant children entered college. In local public schools, 60% did

Attempts to ‘Clean Up Beijing’ Target Low-Cost Migrant Homes

Huang Shulun and Li Rongde
"They came and banged on tenants' doors every day until they agreed to move out, and they cut off their power supply for a week"...

Depth of Field

12.06.16

From West Africa, the Czech Republic, and Home

Ye Ming, Yan Cong & more from Yuanjin Photo
In this month’s Depth of Field, Chinese photojournalists explore foreign terrain, both beyond China’s borders and within them. Independent photographer Yuyang Liu traveled the open seas to document the lives of Chinese and African workers who fish...

China’s Short-Changing Its Future

Christopher Balding
Bloomberg
One of the most critical tasks is developing a workforce for the 21st century.

China’s Factory to the World Is in a Race to Survive

Bloomberg
President Xi wants Guangdong to set an example in his goal of moving away from the cheap-labor export model to an innovation-and-consumption-based one.

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Chinese in Africa But Were Too Afraid to Ask

Eric Olander & Cobus van Staden
The Chinese presence in Africa has been so sudden and so all-encompassing that it’s left a lot of people confused. Chinese farmers now compete for space and customers in Lusaka’s open-air markets, Chinese textiles are undercutting Nigerian...

A Portrait of Youth and Camaraderie in China (Video)

Nadine Ajaka
Atlantic
Xiong Di, this short film by Enric Ribes and Oriol Martínez, is a beautiful ode to friendship among young factory workers in China.

China Desperately Needs Low-Income Migrant Workers to Buy Homes and Save the Economy

Simina Mistreaunu
Quartz
You can't ignore the lower-end demand because there is none at the higher end...

Millions of Chinese Migrant Workers Head Home for New Year

Voice of America
Every year tens of millions of Chinese migrant workers head home in the largest annual mass migration of people.

NO! China is NOT Exporting Convict Labor to Africa!!!!

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Fifteen minutes into almost any conversation about the Chinese in Africa, the question about Chinese labor invariably comes up. “The Chinese are exporting convicts to work on construction sites,” according to one of the pervasive myths, or, “Chinese...

Pool of Migrant Workers Expands Slower than in Past

Workers are also making more, National Bureau of Statistics says, and they are finding work closer to their rural homes.

Sinica Podcast

04.13.15

Styling It in China

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
Sociologist Ben Ross, a doctoral student at the University of Chicago, focuses on Chinese labor migration and related issues. He first got noticed by Sinica in 2007 while writing a blog about working as the only foreign "hair-washing trainee...

China to Expand Unemployment Benefits to Lure Migrants to Cities

Megha Rajagopalan
Reuters
Chinese municipal governments must widen unemployment benefits to residents who are not registered locally, China said on Wednesday, as it dismantles hurdles to urbanization efforts by easing conditions for migrant workers.

Falling Through the Cracks of China’s Health-Care System

Qiyan Li and Laurie Burkitt
Wall Street Journal
China says 95% of its 1.34 billion people are covered by medical insurance. That should have included Zhao Guomei, whose struggle with a rare but treatable disease shows how the system is failing for millions of China’s workers.

China Mulls Giving Migrant Population More Equal Rights

Xinhua
Xinhua
China's migrant population may get equal access to more public services formerly restricted to the locals, according to a draft document of the government...

China’s Migrants Thrive in Spain’s Financial Crisis

Tobias Buck
Financial Times
Laden with beer, liquor, soft drinks and snacks, the trucks are on their way to restock the thousands of Chinese-run corner shops and convenience stores that dot the Spanish capital. Business is good. It always has been, even in the worst moments of...

Sinica Podcast

09.27.14

In Conversation with Mara Hvistendahl

Kaiser Kuo & Jeremy Goldkorn from Sinica Podcast
Kaiser and Jeremy are joined this week by Mara Hvistendahl, Pulitzer Prize-nominated author and long-standing resident of Shanghai, to discuss her two main works. Along with discussing the twists and turns of her murder novel, And the City Swallowed...

The Chinese Invade Africa

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
In early May, China’s premier, Li Keqiang, made a trip to Africa that raised a central question about China’s rise: What effect will it have on the world’s poorer countries? As a big third-world country that has lifted hundreds of millions out of...

China’s Second Continent: The Howard French Interview

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
China may be sincere in its belief that its engagement in Africa is not neo-colonial or imperial in nature but author Howard French argues that may be what ultimately happens if Beijing continues on its current path. In his provocative new book,...

Caixin Media

06.18.14

China’s Retiring Migrant Workers Have No Place to Call Home

A generation of Chinese people from rural areas who moved to the big cities to find work is reaching retirement age, but many are finding they have been left outside the country's urban pension system despite extensive reforms in recent years...

Infographics

05.15.14

China’s Fake Urbanization

from Sohu
This infographic explains why it is so hard for rural migrants to settle permanently in cities. For starters, city dwellers were the first to get rich after Reform and Opening Up, which created a large income disparity between them and people living...

Infographics

05.02.14

The ‘Nongmin’ Breakdown

from Sohu
Who are China's rural migrant workers?A uniquely Chinese social identity, the category of “rural migrant worker” is a product of China’s urban/rural dichotomy. It refers to a class of citizens no longer employed in the agricultural sector who...

Reports

03.25.14

Urban China

World Bank
This report recommends that China curb rapid urban sprawl by reforming land requisition, give migrants urban residency and equal access to basic public services, and reform local finances by finding stable revenues and by allowing local governments...

Beijing Population Tops 21 Million

Xinhua
This includes an estimated increase of 100,000 senior citizens every year until 2020. 

Media

01.23.14

Out of the Dark Room

Sharron Lovell
Photographers document China’s breakneck development in fractions of a second every single day. Yet the work of Chinese photojournalists remains largely unseen outside their homeland. Of the thousands of images of the country illustrating the pages...

Left-Behind Children of China’s Migrant Workers Bear Grown-Up Burdens

Andrew Browne
Wall Street Journal
About 61 Million Chinese Kids Haven’t Seen One or Both Parents for at Least Three Months

Video

11.05.13

Small Part, Big Screen

Gilles Sabrié
Every morning outside the imposing gate of the Beijing Film Studio, a throng gathers to try to find a way inside. These aren’t fans, exactly. Look at their faces, the practiced way they crane their necks or square their shoulders when the man with...

Reports

06.01.13

Expanding Social Insurance Coverage in Urban China

John Giles, Dewen Wang, Albert Park
World Bank
This paper first reviews the history of social insurance policy and coverage in urban China, documenting the evolution in the coverage of pensions and medical and unemployment insurance for both local residents and migrants, and highlighting...

Excerpts

05.15.13

When You Grow Up

Peter Hessler
Little Lu, Little Zhang, and Little Liu waited for me at the end of the bridge. They were ten, twelve, and fourteen years old, respectively, and they had come from the same village in northern Sichuan Province. They said that they had dropped out of...

Excerpts

04.05.13

Living Underground

Ana Fuentes
They are called rats, and they have become a symbol of Beijing’s red-hot real estate market. Because of soaring housing costs, there are at least a million people living underground, only able to afford a rented room in the basements of skyscrapers...

Media

03.11.13

Young Family’s Arrest Brings Tension Between Vendors and Police into Focus

A one-and-a-half-year-old girl wraps her arms around her mother’s neck, crying. Her mother, handcuffed, cannot hug her back—she can only squat down beside the police car to match her daughter’s height. “I’m sorry, mommy can’t hold you…”On March 6,...

Reports

03.07.13

Between the Lines: Listening to Female Factory Workers in China

BSR
Women are crucial to China’s manufacturing sector. While women comprise more than 44% of the overall workforce, they represent about 60% of workers who migrate from rural areas to cities to work in factories. These female workers are diverse, with...

(Photo essay) Migrant Nation: Liu Jie Docuements China’s Ongoing Transformation

Liu Jie
Time
In 2011, Liu Jie, a Chinese photographer based in Beijing, visited and photographed more than 20 villages in the Chinese countryside, documenting one of the more silent but equally poignant externalities of the Chinese economic miracle: the...

Caixin Media

12.03.12

When Hope Dies

A nationwide uproar paralleled the investigation that led to the identification of five street children who suffocated in a large rubbish bin in the city of Bijie, Guizhou province.Officials learned the victims were the sons of three brothers. The...

Features

11.06.12

Fragments of Cai Yang’s Life

Chen Ming
The man suspected of smashing the skull of fifty-one-year-old Li Jianli, the owner of a Japanese automobile, has been arrested by police in Xi’an; he is twenty-one-year-old plasterer Cai Yang.Cai Yang came to Xi’an from his hometown of Nanyang [...

Video

10.16.12

The Rat Tribe

Sim Chi Yin from VII Magazine
The evening sun sits low in the smoggy Beijing sky. Beneath a staid, maroon apartment block, Jiang Ying, 24, is stirring from her bed after having slept through the day. Day is night and night is day anyway in the window-less world she inhabits...

The Horrible Truth About Beijing’s New Homeless

Jimmy
The recent devastating floodwaters that hit China’s capital ten days ago may have receded, but thousands of residents who dwell in Beijing’s basement tenements–many migrant workers with few other options in the expensive capital–have been left...

The Uncertain Future of Beijing's Migrant Schools

Josh Rudolph
China Digital Times
As the gap between China’s urban and rural economies continues to expand, the largest rural-urban migration in world history persists. When those from the countryside arrive in the city, the current hukou system blocks their access to the social...

Books

06.12.12

Eating Bitterness

Michelle Dammon Loyalka
Every year over 200 million peasants flock to China’s urban centers, providing a profusion of cheap labor that helps fuel the country’s staggering economic growth. Award-winning journalist Michelle Dammon Loyalka follows the trials and triumphs of eight such migrants—including a vegetable vendor, an itinerant knife sharpener, a free-spirited recycler, and a cash-strapped mother—offering an inside look at the pain, self-sacrifice, and uncertainty underlying China’s dramatic national transformation. At the heart of the book lies each person’s ability to “eat bitterness”—a term that roughly means to endure hardships, overcome difficulties, and forge ahead. These stories illustrate why China continues to advance, even as the rest of the world remains embroiled in financial turmoil. At the same time, Eating Bitterness demonstrates how dealing with the issues facing this class of people constitutes China’s most pressing domestic challenge. —University of California Press{chop}

Sinica Podcast

04.27.12

Sex and Marriage

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
We hurriedly cleaned up the studio and tried to set a bit more of a romantic tone this week, a feat accomplished mostly by positioning small candles and trays of potpourri by the microphones. And why else than because our subject today is sex and...