Libmonster ID: U.S.-1397
Author(s) of the publication: V. GELBRAS


Doctor of Historical Sciences

Chinese migration has spread to almost every country in the world in recent years. Until recently, it was absent or not significant in Russia, Mongolia, Japan, Poland, Hungary and some other countries. Now China is entering the era (I'm not afraid to use such a strong term) of free travel of citizens abroad. Chinese tourist flows introduce many millions of people to the surrounding countries. The movement of hundreds of millions of people within the country means a massive separation from the places of residence of their ancestors, while tens of millions of people lose the greatest family value for centuries - the land plot.


However, something powerful still needs to happen, so that the mass of people will be forced to go in search of a better life outside the country. But maybe this "something" has already happened? So, we must try to find a spring that feeds the vital juices of Chinese immigrants, and once found, determine whether it can generate a rapid immigration flow that can shake neighboring countries. Immigration, being the result of individual choice, is capable of attracting such a large number of people at the Chinese scale that it will turn into a universal phenomenon that defines one of the most important features of the coming century. But maybe there is no reason for such thoughts? At least not yet.

It is difficult to characterize the scale of the process that has begun: too many factors simultaneously affect a person, forcing him to make certain decisions. Some of them were mentioned above. Here it is impossible to deal with such an acute issue as the expropriation of land from the peasants. It is too complex and large-scale. Therefore, we will try to find the answer by looking at the situation from a pragmatic point of view-by analyzing the scale of unemployment.

Taiwanese experts, summarizing information received from the mainland, compiled a summary of data on unemployment in cities and villages of the country. Unfortunately, the publication was not completely correct. The publication does not contain the name of the author or compiler, and it does not indicate the place of publication, the name of the publisher, or the year of publication. Given the importance of these data for elucidating the prospects for the development of Chinese immigration outside the country, we will give them in full, despite these shortcomings of the publication. Let's try to look at them in more detail, checking all the data presented in it at the same time.

For 2003, the planned rate of unemployment was set at 4.5%. Officially, we managed to achieve the best result - 4.3%1 . Ministry of Labor and Social Security of the People's Republic of China On April 26, 2004, it clarified that only registered unemployed persons with city registration are taken into account when calculating this indicator. At the same time, do not

Table 1

Estimate of the level of unemployment in China (in %)

Share of unemployed in the economically active population with city registration (official data)


Data from former Chinese Prime Minister Zhu Rongji


Hu Angang's assessment of the country's unemployment rate



- Calculation of the unemployment rate in cities (registered urban unemployed + persons deprived of jobs in state-owned enterprises + other categories of unemployed: urban working population)


- Calculation of the unemployment rate in villages (surplus labor force in the village: village labor population)


- Composite unemployment rate in China


Source: 2003 nian dalu jingji tongji shouce (A Brief Guide to Mainland Economic Statistics in 2003), e. 17.

Ending. For the beginning, see: "Asia and Africa Today", 2005, No. 9.

page 17

workers and employees of the xiagang category, as well as peasant workers who have arrived in cities, and some other categories of actual unemployed are taken into account.

Syagans are workers and employees excluded from the staff of state-owned and so-called collective enterprises. For two or three years, they maintain ties with enterprises and organizations that are designed to support them financially. The MTSO noted in its commentary that if Syagan is also considered unemployed, "the share of registered unemployed can reach 7%" 2 . This explains the reasons for Zhu Rongji's estimate of the unemployment rate, which differs from the reporting indicator of the State Statistical Office of the People's Republic of China. The former prime minister did not cheat, he always sought to accurately characterize the situation, since it is the only reliable basis for making the right political decision.

Hu Angang, as an inquisitive scholar, tried to list in detail all the groups of unemployed people that, in his opinion, should be taken into account in order to find out the real state of affairs in the labor market.

In China, able - bodied citizens - men aged 16-50 and women aged 16-45 - are subject to registration as unemployed. It takes into account people who do not have a job and want to get one, who applied to the local employment agency. Persons over 50 years of age accounted for more than 7% of the total number of urban residents who became unemployed in 2002.3 . They are not entitled to register as such, and therefore to receive financial support. The right to receive a pension is granted to men when they reach the age of 60, and to women when they reach the age of 55. Consequently, an entire generation of urban workers is not only not counted as unemployed, they are denied the vital right to receive a living for a long ten years until they reach retirement age.

According to the official explanation of the State Tax Service of the Republic of China, farmers employed in cities, working pensioners, employees of enterprises established at the expense of entrepreneurs in Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, as well as employees of enterprises owned by foreign investors are also excluded .4 Consequently, the estimates of Zhu Rongji and Hu Angang, not to mention the MTSO and GSO data, underestimate the real unemployment rate.

The annual report of the Ministry of Labor and Social Security of the Russian Federation on the state of affairs in the field of labor and social security for 2003 makes us think about the real scale of unemployment. The unemployment rate of 4.3% is determined taking into account 8 million registered unemployed. And the total number of working or able-bodied and willing citizens in 2003 was more than 186 million people. The report says that the number of working citizens has reached 109.7 million people. The question arises: what categories of urban workers make up the difference between 186 million and 109.7 million? To find out the composition of these 76.3 million citizens, it is possible to report that this number includes persons registered as unemployed, employees removed from the state (xiagang), private entrepreneurs and their employees.

But it is hardly correct to take into account only these categories of citizens. In the statistical yearbooks of the People's Republic of China, the structure of the actual urban unemployed is given. In 2002, 42.7% of all urban unemployed were syagans, 29.6% were registered unemployed, 21% were unemployed graduates of educational institutions, and 6.7% were others .5 Consequently, in such an important and sensitive area, there is a striking inconsistency in the statistical service. If we assume that in 2003 the structure of the total mass of unemployed remained approximately the same as in 2002, then 8 million unemployed people accounted for only 1/3 of the actual number of this category of people. In this case, the real unemployment rate in cities should be 3 times higher than 4.3%, that is, 12-14%.

It is noteworthy that in one of the works dated July 2004, Wang Mengkui first wrote:: "According to our research, the unemployment rate in China's cities is in the range of 8-10%, which does not include 150 million people in the rural surplus labor force." 6

From the data of his research, as well as reports from the MTSO and GSU, it is clear that a tense situation has developed in the village. The number of able-bodied rural population is estimated at 510 million people. Of these, between 93 million and almost 114 million people migrated to cities in 2003, or between 18.2 and 22.3%. And 150 million, or about 30%, are considered surplus labor.

Despite numerous official statements about the equality of citizens and peasants as citizens of the country, the latter are not registered as unemployed either in the city or in the countryside, with all the ensuing consequences. Peasant workers cannot count on financial assistance in the event of losing their jobs. Being disenfranchised, they ended up in the hands of various contractors, foremen, born out of the revived traditions of the feudal past. Having discovered such a vicious practice, the government demanded that enterprises enter into labor agreements directly with peasant workers, extend social insurance standards to them, and stop the practice of delaying wages. Undoubtedly, the ugly phenomena of the past will sooner or later be eliminated to one degree or another.

However, the severity of unemployment problems will remain. Moreover, it is becoming increasingly complex. As many Chinese researchers note, in the 1980s, a 1% increase in GDP allowed for an increase in the number of jobs by 0.32% and employment of 2.4 million people, but now - only by 0.1%, that is, to create 0.6-1.0 million new jobs .7

To get real money

page 18

In addition to a fundamental revision of our understanding of the state of affairs in the labor market, it is necessary to carry out a fundamental revision of not only the methodology of statistical accounting.

According to the 2000 census, the working-age population aged 15-64 years was 70.15% of the total population. We can assume that this share has not changed over the past few years. If so, then in 2002 the working-age population exceeded 901 million people. The economically active population has reached 753 million, which is quite high - 83.6% of all able-bodied workers. The economically active population is defined as persons over the age of 16 who are able to work, are employed, or want to work, including the unemployed. The GSU defines the employed population as 737 million people, which make up almost 98% of its economically active part. Absolutely all employees, including part-timers, were taken into account. Only "syagans" are excluded, that is, people who "left the organization but still have an employment relationship with it." In other words, in this case, "syagans" are also actually recognized as unemployed. Based on official data, the number of unemployed is the difference between the economically active and employed population. It is only 16 million people. In fact, they include only the unemployed and "syagan" who have a city registration. For unknown reasons, the GSU does not report anything about the registration of 90-100 million peasants migrating around the country in search of work, unemployed graduates of higher and secondary educational institutions, demobilized military personnel, or other groups of people who work part-time or only occasionally.

Be that as it may, the pressure on the labor market in China should be recognized as extremely high. It is so powerful that millions of people travel thousands of kilometers away from their homes in search of work. They are not deterred by foreign dialects, unfamiliar everyday culture of other regions, difficult and sometimes dangerous working conditions, labor tensions, wage discrimination, or lack of social guarantees. Peasant workers go through the hardest school of urban life. At the same time, they learn from their own experience incomparably higher standards and living conditions, all the charms and vices of the city.

It is necessary to take into account several circumstances that inevitably affect migration processes both within the country and outside. First of all, most of the people who come from the villages in search of work in the cities are not the poorest and darkest part of the population. You need funds to travel and find a job. At a minimum, you need to be elementary literate. Secondly, the peasant workers maintain ties with the village, where relatives remain who need constant material support. Third, families of migrant farmers who have land plots do their best to preserve them as the most important means of social guarantees.

The migration of peasants has sharply increased competition for jobs in the cities. Agreeing to work in worse working conditions, significantly lower wages, and the lack of social guarantees, peasant workers have become serious competitors of the townspeople. Migrant farmers are not yet moving out of the country in search of work. They did, however, have a huge impact on the townspeople. Two social processes have developed in the country, based on the topic of analysis that interests us.


The first process is associated with a sharp acceleration of social separation in the city and village. Enterprising and aggressive breeders, traders and dealers in the field of whiskers have emerged everywhere.-

Table 2

The role of enterprises of various forms of ownership in China's foreign trade, 2002

Foreign trade participants

Trading volume

Trade balance


(billions of US dollars)

Shares of participants (in %)

Total (USD billion)

Shares of participants (in %)

Government organizations





Organizations with foreign capital





National private capital organizations





All participants





Источник: 2003 Zhongguo jingji nianjian (Almanac of China's Economy). - Beijing: Zhongguo jingji nianjian chubansne, 2003, e. 372.

page 19

In 2002, more than 2 million private entrepreneurs were surveyed in 31 provinces, autonomous regions, and cities of central subordination. It turned out that 17.4% are deputies of the assemblies of people's representatives at various levels, 35.1% are members of political advisory bodies. 29.9% of entrepreneurs are members of the Chinese Communist Party. 25.8% of private enterprises were created as a result of actual privatization of state-owned or "collective" plants and fabriks8 . The "new Chinese" use all their energy, resources, and connections to do business not so much within the country as in foreign markets. The Government quickly responded to this entrepreneurial initiative by allowing national private capital and then individual entrepreneurs to conduct foreign economic activity.

In China, national private capital, having just emerged and broken through to the world market, has already taken a significant part of foreign trade profits. Although it accounts for less than 9% of the country's foreign trade turnover, it has generated more than 40% of the country's total foreign trade profit. Private entrepreneurs have managed to stay ahead of other participants in foreign trade, largely due to the fact that they have created jobs for many millions of migrant farmers in both urban and rural areas.

The second social process is associated with the emigration of citizens outside the country. Under the pressure of peasant workers, citizens increasingly began to think about finding their place in the sun outside the country. The rise of tourism contributes to these aspirations. Often financed by state-owned enterprises, foreign tourism expands citizens ' perceptions of the world around them, becoming one of the most important means of demonstrating living conditions in other countries. The new phenomenon was quickly noticed and approved by the government. In 50 cities of the country, the practice of free issuance of foreign passports has begun. State-owned banks have expanded lending to those wishing to make foreign tours.

According to the Ministry of Public Security of the People's Republic of China, in 2004 the number of people traveling abroad on private business was more than 23 million, which is 55.4% more than in 2003. And the total number of people who crossed the border for various purposes was 23.6% more than a year earlier. At the same time, in contrast to 2003, more people left than returned. In particular, the first place in the number of border crossings by rail was taken by the Manzhouli station on the Russian-Chinese border. It accounted for 20% of all people who crossed the border using this type of transport. Russia was in third place in terms of the number of Chinese traveling abroad, behind Japan and Korea. In other words, the growth of migration flows within the country immediately caused a jump in the practical interest of the inhabitants of the Middle Kingdom to travel to other countries. It is not superfluous to add that the share of tourists accounted for only 21.5% of those who traveled outside the country9 .

In other words, the development of internal migration quickly found its continuation outside. Perhaps the speed with which this transition took place is related both to the objective needs of the country's socio-economic development and to the long-term foreign economic strategy of the party-state, which became known under the motto "Go outside". Both are clear examples of one of the most significant aspects of globalization, which the Chinese Government seeks to use in the national interest.

Its other side is the internationalization of production and circulation of goods, capital and services. In this area, migration flows within China play a very important role. In the modern world, many developed countries have begun to strictly protect their labor markets from international immigration trends. But barriers to goods, capital, and services are gradually being removed. Countries where Chinese migrants cannot freely enter are more or less easily supplied with goods produced by them. The cost of their production in China is so low that they are practically out of competition in foreign markets.

To identify the impact of peasant migration on China's foreign economic activity, we will use the materials of a study conducted by the Chinese Ministry of Labor and Social Development in early 2004.

The Ministry conducted a questionnaire survey of 2,783 enterprises in 26 large and medium-sized cities. 2,659 businesses (more than 95%) received full responses. At these enterprises, peasant workers accounted for about 60% of the total number of employees. The aim of the study was to analyze the turnover of peasant workers before and after the most revered Spring festival in China. It turned out, in particular, that approximately 61% of peasant workers were going to traditionally celebrate the holiday with their families. 88% of them planned to return to their businesses after the holiday. As for the enterprises themselves, the management of 70% of them intended to increase the number of employees by 13% at the expense of peasant workers within two months after the holiday. This information, which is interesting in itself for understanding real peasant migration to cities, allows us to create an approximate picture of its impact on foreign trade. Among the respondents, 43% of enterprises belong to industries whose products occupy leading positions in the country's exports.

For our analysis, we carefully selected the provinces where businesses were surveyed. At the same time, the specifics of the regions were taken into account. For example, in the Yangtze Delta, not a single enterprise was surveyed in Shanghai, which is a strategic center of the region. Despite its importance, Shanghai is excluded from the list of exporters

page 20

the Yangtze Delta. Liaoning Province is also located on the coast of Bohai Bay. But in this province, only one city's businesses were surveyed. Therefore, we also did not take into account the export of this industrially developed province.

In Fujian Province, businesses located only in its southeastern part, where the Min dialect dominates, were surveyed. We also took into account the export of the entire province, which is dictated by its specifics. The Min dialect is common in Taiwan, among Chinese people living in many countries. The province has a population of about 35 million people. At the same time, the number of foreign Chinese speaking this dialect and Taiwanese natives of Fujian Province reaches almost 11 million. Hong Kong's Hong Kong and Macao's Macao alone have more than 1.2 million residents. They have invested more than $ 40 billion in the province's economy, setting up 33,000 businesses. The province is also interesting because it employs many migrant workers. 10

In the coastal area of the Bohai Bay, cities and provinces are noticeably different from each other. Beijing and Tianjin are the centers of attraction for migrant farmers, but Shandong Province is fundamentally different from them. In the province, the bulk of migrant farmers are residents of rural areas of the province-93%. Two factors determine the specifics of the province: the local dialect and the strength of blood ties 11 .

We accepted the enterprises surveyed by MTSO as representatives of all economic entities of the respective provinces that directly or indirectly influence all foreign economic activity in this territory. To characterize its results, one important indicator was chosen - the volume of exports. It fairly fully reflects the extent of the region's influence on neighboring markets, helping to analyze the topic of interest to us.

To characterize the economic impact of migrant farmers on foreign economic activity, specific data on their number in individual regions obtained during the above-mentioned MTSO survey are presented below.

The presented picture, of course, does not pretend to reveal the exact relationship between the number of migrant farmers attracted by regional enterprises and the volume of exports of the entire province. However, the scale of exports is still indicative of important trends in China's economic and social development. For example, Fujian Province accounts for approximately 2.7% of the population, but 5.6% of the country's total exports. The population of Guangdong is 6.1% of the country's total population, but it generates 36.6% of the national exports. In the province, peasant workers accounted for 1/3 of all wage earners .12

Thus, if we talk about the impact of migrants on the country's exports, then it is necessary to take into account that peasant workers receive 1/3 or 1/2 of the salary and social benefits of workers.-

Table 3

The scale of exports in the regions of China where the labor of migrant farmers is used in production


number of enterprises surveyed


Number of employees at the surveyed enterprises

Export of the region 2002

Total (thousand people)

Among them: migrants (thousand people)

Share of migrants (in %)

Total (USD million)

Share of the country's exports (in %)

Xijiang Delta (Zhujiang), 488







280 Min Southeast District







Yangtze Delta, 790

Jiangsu, Zhejiang






Coastal area of Bohai Bay, 665

Beijing, Tianjin, Shandong






Central and western districts, 436

Xinjiang, Sichuan, Hubei






Overall, 2,659







Source: Zhongguo de jiuye zhuangkuang he zhengce " baipishu (quanwen) (China's Employment Environment and Politics). 2004, April 26. - 04/26/contentl440030.htm

Zhongguo tongji nianjian, 2003, e. 654.

page 21

sneeze with a city registration. Thus, migrants from rural areas significantly reduce the cost of producing export products 13 . As a result, the migration of Chinese peasants to industrial centers makes a significant contribution to the export orientation of the country's economy and its growing influence on the world markets of labor, capital, goods and services.

* * *

China has entered a completely new stage of its existence. The era of reckless economic growth has given way to prudent development commensurate with the dominant international processes. The country is undergoing tectonic changes in all areas of social, economic and social life, affecting the fundamental foundations of the socio-political structure. An intensive process of national consolidation has begun, taking place simultaneously with growing social differentiation. China has started developing its domestic market and actively gaining footholds in world markets.

The aspects of Chinese reality discussed above, as well as those left out of the field of analysis, are particularly acute in identifying the problems and contradictions of the progressive movement of society and the state. Some of them were created long ago, and some of them were the result of rapid economic growth over the last 25 years of the late XX - early XXI centuries.

One of the most serious problems is the aggravation of contradictions between the size of the population, the volume of natural resources and environmental degradation. During the last 20 years of the 20th century, despite the birth rate restriction, the annual net population growth reached 8-10 million people. By 2020, the country's population will reach 1.45-1.49 billion. human. In this regard, the problems caused by the shortage of arable land and fresh water reserves are inexorably becoming more acute. China has to look for ways and forms of freeing millions of working-age people from agriculture, without which it is impossible to increase efficiency in this sector of the economy. The country must inevitably find a special type of industrialization that corresponds to its characteristics, and open its own path to urbanization.

The political decision to eliminate barriers to rural migration has led to an aggravation of employment problems in cities and a clash between traditional and modern forms of life of labor collectives. To some extent, all kinds of organizations (dangwei) must go into the past, which were, in fact, the product of a clan organization that took care of a person from birth to the end of life. A person turns into a sovereign, but preserving clan ties personality. A person gains freedom of action outside the organization, clan, but the organization, clan also narrows the scope and size of its guardianship and care for him. Many lines of tension have emerged in human and social relations, which are particularly acute in the lives of migrant farmers. At the same time, a new society is being born, consisting of equal individuals. Important steps have been taken towards the formation of a civil society. The features of a truly New China are beginning to emerge more and more clearly.

The changes in China are of great international importance. It is still difficult to fully assess them. One thing is clear: this impact will be huge.

1 Laodong he shehui baozhang bu, Guojia tongji ju, 2003 niandu laodong he baozhang shiye fazhan tongji gongbao (Ministry of Labor and Social Security, State Statistical Office. Statistical communique on Labour and Social Security development in 2003)

2 Zhongguo chengshi dengji shiyelyui 4.3% (Registered jobless rate in China was 4.3%), "Zhongguo wang", 2004, April 26 -

3 Ibid., e. 175, 179.

4 Ibid.

5 Zhongguo tongji nianjian, 2002, e. 174.

Wang Mengkui. 6 Zhongguo fazhan u da tiaozheng (xia) (Fifth Major Refinement of China's Development Strategy (Article Two), 2004, July 15 -

7 Ibid.

8 Zhongguo saying qiye diaocha (China Private Enterprise Survey) -

9 Qunian neidi 2300van jumin ing si chu jin feifa chu zu jin 5700 duo ren ci (Last year, 23 million people left the country on private business, more than 5,700 people left or entered the country illegally.) - /755158.htm

10 Materials used: Jingji fazhan (Economic Development), "Dongnan wang", 2004, May 28 -

Touzi huanjing (Capital Investment Climate), "Dongnan wang", 2004, May 28 -

Kaifang diqu (Open Areas), "Dongnan wang", 2004, May 28 -

Li Peilin. 11 Ludong mingong de shehui wanlo he jiaowang fangshi (Social relations and forms of communication of migrant workers) - in Redian huoti ri Zhongguo nongmin gong (Current topic. Chinese peasant workers) -

12 Guangdung liudong renkou tupo 2000 wan chengwei liudong renkou zuiduo de sheng (The number of migrants in Guangdong exceeded 20 million). The province became the largest in terms of migrant population) "Xin hua wang", 2004, May 31 -

Lu Xueyi. 13 Zou xiang quanmian, xietiao, ke chixu fazhan de Zhongguo shehui (Towards integrated, balanced, sustainable development of Chinese society) - in 2003-2004 nian Zhongguo shehui xingshi fenxi yu yuce zong baogao (Summary report on the results of the analysis of the social situation in China 2003-2004 and forecast),


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