China Perspectives 2010/4


Rural Migrants:

On the Fringe of the City, a Bridge to the Countryside

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China Perspectives 2010/4

Special Feature

Editorial Page 2

Sylvie Démurger

The Economic Situation of Rural Migrant Workers in China Page 4

Li Shi

This paper examines the current economic situation of rural migrant workers in China. The paper provides some descriptive statistics on their regions of origin, their destinations, and the sectors in which they are employed, as well as on their age, sex and level of education. The paper also discusses the difficult working conditions of many rural migrant workers in the Chinese labour market, in particular their low wages, the problems of wage arrears, the lack of written contracts, the long working hours, the inadequate social security coverage, and the difficulties they face in accessing public services.

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Labour Market Disparity, Poverty, and Inequality in Urban China Page 15

Zhiming ChengFei Guo

This paper examines poverty and income inequality in urban China by analysing recent survey data collected in four of the largest Chinese cities(1). Using a number of quantitative measurements, including poverty indices and Gini coefficients, the paper investigates income poverty and inequality among three groups, namely urban locals, urban migrants, and rural migrants. The results strongly suggest that urban poverty and inequality are a serious issue and that rural migrants have become a major segment in the urban poor class. The results are expected to contribute to the debate on how to improve public policy on poverty alleviation, which currently focuses only on officially registered urban locals.

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Healthcare for Migrants in Urban China: A New Frontier Page 33

Carine Milcent

How can healthcare access for Chinese migrants be improved? Migrant workers face two types of healthcare-access exclusion in the workplace: one is financial (because of their income) and the other is social (because of the lack of social networks in the city). We use 2006 data from a survey of rural migrant workers conducted in five of the most economically-advanced cities. The empirical findings support the hypothesis of a return to the hometown for migrant workers with poor health. Apart from residency permits and income, the social integration of migrant workers is also found to be a decisive factor in healthcare access.

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White-Collar Migrants in Coastal Chinese Cities Page 48

Pierre-Paul ZalioGilles Guiheux

Entrepreneurs of Their Professional Careers

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The Impact of Remittances on Rural Poverty Reduction and on Rural Households’ Living Expenditure Page 60

Meiyan Wang

This paper uses survey data from Jiangsu and Anhui provinces to examine the impact of remittances on rural poverty reduction and on rural households’ living expenditure. The paper shows that remittances play an important role in rural poverty reduction. The paper also finds that rural households mainly use remittances for current consumption living expenditure rather than for investment living expenditure such as health and housing.

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Return Migration, Occupational Change, and Self-Employment Page 71

Hui Xu

After two decades of rural-to-urban labour exodus, an increasing trend of urban-to-rural labour counterflow has also occurred in China*. This paper discusses the economic performance of return migrants with data from a survey conducted in Wuwei County in 2008. We identify the characteristics of return migrants, record their occupational change patterns, and examine their current self-employment activities. A comparative approach with non-migrants is used throughout the paper.

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Land Rights in Rural China since 1978 Page 87

Thomas Vendryes

Since 1978, changes in rural land policies have constituted a critical dimension in the evolution of the Chinese economy toward liberalisation and marketisation. This paper aims at reviewing the institutional changes that took place in Chinese rural areas, with a particular focus on two essential dimensions of their dynamics: the central state and regulations, and local rural Chinese citizens’ interests.

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China as the World’s Creditor and the United States as the World’s Debtor Page 100

Shalendra D. Sharma

China is now the world’s leading creditor nation, while the United States is the world’s largest debtor. Beijing is the largest foreign holder of US government debt – passing Japan in 2008 to become, in effect, the US government’s largest foreign creditor. While some claim this gives Beijing unprecedented power over the United States, others claim that China’s power is in fact greatly circumscribed. This paper shows that although current patterns of economic interdependence between the two economies invariably pushes each towards cooperation, China is deeply concerned about the future trajectory of the US economy and is already engaged in loosening the bonds of interdependence. This has profound implications for Sino-US relations and the global economy.

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The Pan Hannian Affair and Power Struggles at the Top of the CCP (1953-1955) Page 116

Xiaohong Xiao-planes

Pan Hannian (1906-1977), Communist activist from 1925, former senior head of the CCP secret service and deputy mayor of Shanghai after the PRC’s founding, was arrested in 1955 for treachery and counter-revolutionary crimes. He was condemned, with his wife Dong Hui, to imprisonment and to laogai campsfor the rest of his life. His posthumous rehabilitation in 1982 transformed him into a legendary national hero. Illustrative of the political struggles in 1953-1955, the Pan Hannian affair seems to reveal the methods Mao Zedong used from time to time in managing the Party internally so as to maintain his dominant position in the leadership.

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Current Affairs

China Analysis – Social security law in for further horse-trading – “Grey income”: hidden face of inequalities Page 128

Anne RulliatThomas Vendryes

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Book Reviews

Frederic E. Wakeman Jr., Telling Chinese History: A Selection of Essays Page 134

Guannan Li

Kathryn Edgerton-Tarpley, Tears from Iron: Cultural Responses to Famine in Nineteenth-Century China Page 136

Pierre-Étienne Will

Paul Clark, The Chinese Cultural Revolution: A History Page 139

Gina Marchetti

Thomas Heberer and Gunter Schubert (eds.), Regime Legitimacy in Contemporary China: Institutional Change and Stability Page 141

Guoguang Wu

Jonathan Unger (ed.), Associations and the Chinese State: Contested Spaces Page 142

Anthony J. Spires

Michal Meidan (ed.), Shaping China’s Energy Security: The Inside Perspective Page 144

Thierry Kellner



























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