China Cracking Down on Rural Migrants

As millions of rural poor move into Chinese cities, the country's legal residency system is making life difficult for the illegal rural migrants.
August 31, 2011, 8am PDT | Nate Berg
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For example, private schools for the children of undocumented migrants are being demolished by the government.

"[S]chool administrators, parents and many Beijingers view the bulldozing as nothing more than a roughshod exercise in population control. According to the Beijing Bureau of Statistics, more than one-third of the capital's 19.6 million residents are migrants from China's rural hinterland, a figure that has grown by about 6 million just since 2000.

Numbers like these worry the governing Communist Party, which has a particular aversion to the specter of urban slums and their potential as cauldrons for social instability.

Though the quality of education they offer may be questionable, private schools like Red Star are often the only option for the children of low-skilled migrant laborers, who for the most part are ineligible for the free public education available to legal Beijing residents. Known derisively as "waidi ren," or outsiders, the migrants are the cut-rate muscle that makes it eminently affordable for better-off Chinese to dine out, hire full-time nannies and ride new subway lines in places like Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen."

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Published on Monday, August 29, 2011 in The New York Times
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