Last Updated: Friday, 19 September 2014, 13:55 GMT

China: Temporary and permanent migration between provinces, including documentation needed and reporting requirements; whether citizens relocate without fulfilling official requirements and the effect on access to housing, employment, and health care; whether the police use hukou (household registration system) records to track and monitor citizens and enforce the law (2008-2012)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Publication Date 20 August 2012
Citation / Document Symbol CHN103882.E
Related Document Chine : information sur les migrations temporaires et permanentes entre les provinces, dont la documentation nécessaire et les exigences en matière de déclaration obligatoire; information indiquant si les citoyens s'établissent ailleurs sans remplir les exigences officielles et l'effet sur l'accès au logement, à l'emploi et aux soins de santé; information indiquant si la police utilise le hukou (système d'enregistrement des ménages) pour suivre et surveiller les citoyens et faire observer la loi (2008-2012)
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, China: Temporary and permanent migration between provinces, including documentation needed and reporting requirements; whether citizens relocate without fulfilling official requirements and the effect on access to housing, employment, and health care; whether the police use hukou (household registration system) records to track and monitor citizens and enforce the law (2008-2012), 20 August 2012, CHN103882.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/50a9f0f32.html [accessed 21 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

1. Internal Migration in China
1.1 Scale of Migration

According to China's national population census data, there were 221 million Chinese citizens residing for at least six months outside of their city or town of official residence in 2010 (China 28 Apr. 2011). Within the migrant population, migrant workers are estimated by various sources to number 132 million (Chan 2009, 207), 153 million (Reuters 17 Oct. 2011), and 170 million (China Daily 6 Mar. 2011).

1.2 Regulation of Migrants Through the Hukou System

Internal migration in China is regulated by the household registration (hukou or huji) system (Li et al. 2010, 145-46; Chan and Buckingham Sept. 2008, 587). According to Fei-Ling Wang, a professor of international affairs at the Georgia Institute of Technology who has written extensively on the hukou system and hukou reform (CFR n.d.), the hukou system performs four primary functions for the government: to register residents and collect information on them; to enable "resource allocation and subsidization for selected groups," primarily urban hukou holders; to regulate and control internal migration, primarily rural-to-urban movements; and to enable the police to control "targeted people" to maintain political stability (2011, 114-15). As Wang explains, all citizens are required to be "officially and constantly" registered with the hukou police (2011, 114).

The hukou system has been described as an institution of "exclusion" (Wang 2011, 126; Zhang and Wang 2010, 148) and "discrimination" (Young 14 Aug. 2010; Zhang 2010, 51), most notably because it prohibits internal migrants from accessing well-paid and stable employment (ibid.) and public services (Scheineson 14 May 2009; US 10 Oct. 2011, 117). It classifies all citizens by type - agricultural (rural) and non-agricultural (urban) - as well as by location of permanent residence - local or non-local (Chan and Buckingham Sept. 2008, 587-88; Chan 2009, 201). The non-agricultural designation confers the right to certain state-provided social services, such as housing, employment, education and health care, not available to those with an agricultural hukou, while the possession of a local hukou designating permanent residence in a specific city, town or village determines the right to access that locality's services and privileges ((ibid., 201-02; Chan and Buckingham Sept. 2008, 587-88).

Before the nongzhuanfei (the process of "converting hukou from agricultural to non-agricultural") reform of the late 1990s, rural-to-urban migrants required permission from the central government to convert one's hukou to a non-agricultural designation; once the central government approved the nongzhuanfei, the acquisition of a local hukou from the local government in the city of destination "[u]sually followed" (Chan and Buckingham Sept. 2008, 588, 590-91). After the reform, the agricultural/non-agricultural distinction became less relevant as the central government shifted "fiscal and administrative powers to lower-level governments"; however, the location of a citizen's local hukou remains important in determining where a citizen can access government services and social assistance (ibid., 589, 591). Similarly, Wang notes that the "permanent residency" hukou not only determines where one can reside legally and permanently but also where one can access "community-based rights, opportunities, benefits, and privileges" (2011, 114).

2. Hukou Reform
2.1 Global Assessment of Hukou Reform

According to Wang, a "'deep reform'" of the hukou system was initiated in 2001 and renewed in 2005 (2011, 116, 122). In a September 2008 China Quarterly paper on hukou reform, academics Kam Wing Chan and Will Buckingham noted that Western media and "more serious China scholarship in the West" have misinterpreted recent reforms as an indication that the hukou system is to be dismantled (585). They contend that the Western media does not fully understand the complexity of the hukou system and assert that reform initiatives "have had only very marginal impact on weakening the foundation of the system" and that China is not abolishing the hukou system (Chan and Buckingham Sept. 2008, 605, 604). Several academics agree that reform of the system has been minor (Chan 2009, 206; Wang 2011, 115, 123; Li et al. 2010, 152), and that the Chinese authorities are far from dismantling the system (Wang 2010, 97; Young 2011, 149). In 2011, Wang, citing Chan and Buckingham, wrote that "four years after the originally planned year of completing the reform, the … hukou system appeared to have changed little in its role of … regulating internal migration" (123). For their part, Chan and Buckingham note that, although the distinction between agricultural and non-agricultural hukou has been abandoned in some cities, the imposition of "locally determined 'entry conditions'" based on a differentiation between "'locals'" and "'outsiders' (migrants from the countryside)" continues to maintain the urban-rural divide (Sept. 2008, 604-5).

2.2 Decentralization and Localization of Control

As mentioned, the reform of the hukou system has involved the devolution of administrative and policy-making power from the central government to lower level governments (Chan and Buckingham Sept. 2008, 591, 593; Zhang and Wang 2010, 148). According to Chan and Buckingham, the central government no longer imposes a quota on the number of hukou conversions, and many local governments now have "full power and discretion" to determine the number of hukou transfers each year and the conditions for obtaining a transfer (Sept. 2008, 593, 594). However, academics Limei Li, Si-Ming Li and Yinfang Chen, writing in the journal City, Culture and Society, note that, with the power to confer hukou, city governments have also inherited the obligation to provide social welfare services, creating a "fiscal burden" that they allegedly try to avoid while capitalizing on the economic power of migrant workers (2010, 146).

2.3 Differentiation Between Locations

Sources note that there have been increasingly greater differences between cities in terms of the amount and types of services and social assistance provided to local hukou holders (Chan and Buckingham Sept. 2008, 589; Li et al. 2010, 146). Li et al. state that, with the "elimination of the agricultural and non-agricultural distinction" in a number of places, the value of hukou is increasingly linked to the location of residence rather than the type of hukou, and also to the size and administrative status of the city (2010, 146). Sources explain the link between the value of the hukou and the status of the city by saying that the higher the administrative status of a city, the more benefits are available to local hukou holders (Li and Li 2010, 205; Li et al. 2010, 146) and the more difficult it is for migrants to obtain a local hukou (ibid., 146; Zhan 2011, 249; Chan and Buckingham Sept. 2008, 596; Professor of Political Science 6 Feb. 2012). Additionally, the requirements for obtaining local hukou can reportedly vary even within a given city, depending on the district (Li and Li 2010, 195; Young 11 Jan. 2012).

3. Regulation of Permanent, Temporary, and Unofficial Migration
3.1 Local (Permanent) Hukou

As mentioned, sources indicate that individual city governments create specific "'entry conditions'" for migrants who wish to obtain a local hukou (Wang 2011, 117; Chan 2009, 205; Chan and Buckingham Sept. 2008, 594), and that this practice has become the primary mechanism for regulating migration in some cities (ibid.; Chan 2009, 205). In many urban locales, for example, conversion of one's residency hukou is possible for wealthy or educated migrants (Young 14 Aug. 2010; Chan and Buckingham Sept. 2008, 595; Li et al. 2010, 147). Beginning in the mid 1990s, city governments were granted the ability to sell local hukou to investors (Li and Li 2010, 195; Chan and Buckingham Sept. 2008, 591). Sources also indicate that hukou can be acquired in some cities through the purchase of a home (Li et al. 2010, 147; Li and Li 2010, 196; Young 2011, 147; Wang 2011, 116,127). According to Wang, this "localized practice of selective migration to major cities, nicknamed 'hukou in exchange for talents and investments,' has been … nationally adopted" (2011, 117). Moreover, sources note that entry conditions are difficult for most rural migrant workers to meet since the system is designed to attract highly skilled and wealthy migrants (Young 2011, 146; Chan and Buckingham Sept. 2008, 595).

In a study on hukou and its effect on the ability of migrant workers to improve their lives, John Hopkins University researcher Shaohua Zhan indicates that migrant workers who have a stable job, maintain a stable source of income, or have a regular place of residence in "small cities (usually towns and county cities)" are eligible to apply for a local hukou (2011, 252). Zhan also notes that in "certain county towns" in Chifeng prefecture, Inner Mongolia, a labour contract of three months fulfills the employment requirement for a local hukou (2011, 252). On the other hand, Wang, citing several Chinese newspapers, states that entry conditions in "[m]any localities, mostly small cities and towns," usually require a "stable and officially sanctioned local job (with specific minimum income) and a local legal residence for at least two years" (2011, 118, 117). He also notes that "'all the migration registration procedures are still to be followed strictly'" (2011, 117).

3.2 Transitional Hukou

In some cases, city governments created a new category of local hukou known as a "'blue stamp'" [or "'blue chop'" (Young 2011, 147)] hukou [lanyin hukou] (Wang 2011, 115; Li et al. 2010, 147). Blue stamp hukou, so named to differentiate it from the red-stamped formal [permanent] hukou (ibid.), is defined by one academic source as a "transitional local urban hukou [with] various qualifications, 'entry conditions,' and implementation procedures in different localities to allow the migration of selected groups of people" (Wang 2011, 115), and by another as a "quasi-hukou carrying partial citizenship" (Li et al. 2010, 147). However, Wang notes that "[s]ome other cities have simply replaced the blue-stamp hukou with entry-condition-based permanent hukou" (Wang 2011, 116).

In Shenzhen, the blue stamp hukou reportedly offers almost the same rights and privileges as a permanent local hukou, excluding the right to vote, and can also be used as a "stepping stone" to acquiring a local hukou (Young 11 Jan. 2012). Jason Young, a lecturer on East Asian politics at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, who has written several publications on the hukou system, states that Shenzhen's "third tier" of residency hukou, the other two being temporary and permanent, "focuse[s] on employment, home ownership, and business investment" (2011, 147). In Beijing, there is a "[h]ighly competitive" hukou system with "eighteen categories of … hukou transfer," including science and technology workers, students returning from study abroad and financial experts, that are "based on what an applicant can offer the city" (Young 2011, 146). In a telephone interview with the Research Directorate, Young explained that the different criteria are designed to attract certain classes of migrants and thereby influence the makeup of the city, a practice the authorities are reportedly able to carry out because of the city's high status (11 Jan. 2012).

3.3 Temporary Residence Permits

Various academics discuss the issuance by various municipalities of non-permanent residence permits or cards to migrant workers (Wang 2011, 114; Young 2011, 144; Li et al. 2010, 147). The first of such permits, the "temporary residence card" (zanzhu zheng), was introduced in 1984 and allowed citizens to work and live temporarily in another city without transferring their permanent hukou location (Young 14 Aug. 2010). Limei Li, a professor of modern Chinese cities at East China Normal University who specializes in the hukou system in Shanghai and Guangzhou, explained that governments used the original temporary residence cards "to collect information to better monitor and control migrants" (1 May 2012). However, temporary residence cards have since been replaced by a more sophisticated "residence card" (juzhu zheng) system, which allows for the issuance of multiple types of non-permanent residence cards while avoiding the negative connotations associated with the "temporary" designation (Li 1 May 2012). Local governments use the residence card system to not only monitor the migrant population, but also to accord different treatment to migrants depending on their skills, qualifications, and their ability to contribute to economic development in their host city (ibid.).

According to Limei Li, the first state document proposing to gradually implement the residence card system nationwide was produced by the National Development and Reform Commission of China and approved by the State Council in May 2010 (ibid. 8 Feb. 2012). She added, however, that there is no specific timeline for the national adoption of this system and that the responsibility for implementation will lie with provincial and municipal governments (ibid.; ibid. 1 May 2012).

In their study of hukou and the residence card system, Li et al. state that one of the means city governments use to select whom they will admit as a resident is to require migrants to apply for a non-permanent residence card instead of issuing a permanent local hukou (2010, 147). This residence card grants "partial citizenship," where citizenship is defined by the authors as a "social sense of membership and the right to an allocation of resources" (Li et al. 2010, 147, 145). The criteria - age, education, professional skills, stable residence - for obtaining a residence card are those that were formerly sufficient for obtaining a local hukou (ibid., 147).

In his interview with the Research Directorate, Young indicated that to obtain a residence permit, a migrant generally needs a job offer, work permit, admittance to an educational institution, or investment capital (11 Jan. 2012). However, in a 2011 publication, he notes that, in Beijing, a residence permit can also enable the holder to gain a legal work permit, in addition to other benefits (Young 2011, 144). He also indicates that a residence permit can be renewed if the migrant maintains stable employment, but it must be returned to the hukou police upon departure from the city (ibid.).

In Shanghai, there are four types of residence cards targeting different groups of migrants and conferring different privileges (Li et al. 2010, 148). The "talents' residence card" is designed to attract highly skilled or educated professionals (ibid.). A second type of card is reserved for foreigners or "overseas Chinese" working in Shanghai, while a third is for migrants who have a stable job and residence or are running a local business (ibid.). For migrants who do not meet the criteria for these residence cards, a renewable "transient residence card" (linshi juzhu zheng), issued on an ad hoc basis, grants legal residency for six months (ibid.) and access to some social services (Li 8 Feb. 2012). Limei Li stated that the supporting documents required for each type of residence card varies (ibid.). She explained that the talents' card requires the greatest number of documents from migrants and has the most stringent eligibility criteria, while the transient residence card requires only an identification (ID) card and a residential address and has no registration fee (ibid.; ibid. 1 May 2012).

Wang states that a new residential card was introduced in 2006 as the required ID document for any migrant staying in Shanghai and Shenzhen (Guangdong province) for longer than a month (2011, 115). The card, which is the size of a credit card, reportedly contains a chip in which is stored "extensive" personal information, including the "'holder's job status, credit history, criminal record, and birth-planning record'" (Wang 2011, 114). Li et al. report on nine other cities that have followed the example of Shanghai in implementing a residence card system: Zhuhai, Guangzhou, Dongguan, and Shenzhen (Guangdong province); Dalian (Liaoning province); Jiaxing and Cixi (Zhejiang province); Changchun (Jilin province); and Taiyuan (Shanxi province) (2010, 146 n. 3). Limei Li added that although "many" cities or provinces have followed Shanghai's lead in issuing residence cards, the policies and regulations may vary between different locales and are "not necessarily [as] complex" as those of Shanghai (8 Feb. 2012).

According to Young, in Beijing and Shanghai, as well as other parts of China, "temporary" migration has increasingly become more permanent (2011, 145, 147). For example, 51 percent of temporary migrants in Beijing spend more than five years there (ibid., 145). Li and Li write, in a separate contribution to a book on the rural-urban gap in China, that more than 40 percent of permanent residents in Guangzhou (Guangdong province) do not hold local hukou (2010, 195).

3.4 Unofficial or Non-hukou Migration

A third class of migrants are the non-hukou migrants, those who migrate without obtaining local hukou or a temporary residency permit (Young 2011, 134). In a paper for Eurasian Geography and Economics, Chan defines the non-hukou population as migrants who are de facto residents but who do not possess local citizenship rights because they are not residents by right (2009, 204). Young stated that, due to the nature of undocumented migration, there is no official estimate of how many unregistered migrants there are in different locations, but that estimates for various cities can range from 20 to 60 percent of a city's population (11 Jan. 2012). The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), in its 2010 Economic Survey of China, stated that unofficial migrants "probably" make up over 40 percent of total employment in urban centres (Feb. 2010, 6). As well, Li and Li state that, in coastal cities where most in-migration takes place, "'present but not registered'" is the norm among migrants (2010, 190).

Young explained that the "control aspects" of the hukou system have weakened in part because of the rise of the market economy in China (11 Jan. 2012). This weakening can, for example, make it possible for non-hukou migrants to find housing without a residency permit, although possessing one is still important (Young 11 Jan. 2012). Li and Li wrote in 2010 that it is now possible for citizens to migrate without fulfilling official requirements and to get a job without a valid permit (2010, 189). In contrast, Wang reports that although private employers no longer need to be concerned with hukou status or type, they are still required to ensure that their employees have either a local permanent hukou or a valid temporary residential permit (2011, 117). Similarly, Young noted that, legally, undocumented migrants are not allowed to work (11 Jan. 2012). However, a San Diego State University professor of political science who has researched migration and urban job-seekers in China told the Research Directorate in a telephone interview that many migrants work in the informal sector where there is much less regulation (6 Feb. 2012).

4. Migrant Access to Social Benefits

Numerous sources document the disadvantages faced by temporary migrant workers and undocumented migrants in terms of their lack of or limited access to social security benefits (Young 11 Jan. 2012; Professor of Political Science 6 Feb. 2012; Froissart 2011, 20; Scheineson 14 May 2009; Frijters et al. Apr. 2009, Sec. 4). Young explained that non-hukou migrants are either excluded from accessing social security, health insurance, and education, or they must pay higher prices for such services (11 Jan. 2012). He added that although migrants with temporary residence permits have more privileges - particularly, the right to legal work - they are also not guaranteed access to social services or are charged higher fees (Young 11 Jan. 2012).

Zhan notes that due to the "marketization" of health care, education, and other goods and services, migrant workers increasingly have the option of paying for access to medicine, housing, and education (2011, 253). Both Wang (2011, 128) and Young (11 Jan. 2012) indicate that for temporary workers who have good, well-paying jobs, hukou policies are not of serious concern. Young stated that although more affluent workers can afford to pay for the services that the state does not provide, most migrant workers work in "blue collar jobs" and cannot necessarily afford the same services (11 Jan. 2012).

Sources note that, in the early 2000s, some municipalities began to implement social security systems for rural migrant labour, but that coverage is limited compared to what is offered to urban residents (Chan and Buckingham Sept. 2008, 600; Froissart 2011, 20 n. 14), and that participation rates are low (Chan and Buckingham Sept. 2008, 600; Scheineson 14 May 2009).

4.1 Employment and Employment-Related Benefits

In a 2010 study on migrant workers' job mobility published in the China Economic Review, Huafeng Zhang of the Fafo Institute for Applied International Studies, in Norway, found that 22 percent of temporary migrants surveyed in Beijing, WuXi (Jiangsu province), and Zhuhai (Guangdong province) said that the lack of a local hukou was the greatest impediment to finding a job (2010, 54). Zhang found, further, that migrants relied primarily on "informal information networks [of] family, friends, and acquaintances" to find employment in cities (2010, 53). The professor of political science said that hiring discrimination against migrants has lessened since the mid 2000s, but that, compared to local residents, migrants would generally still face either lower pay or the same pay but with fewer benefits, as well as less job security (6 Feb. 2012). In an article published by the Council on Foreign Relations, Andrew Scheineson, an associate editor for the Columbia East Asia Review (CEAR n.d.), also indicates that migrant workers earn less than urban workers and that the law does not protect them if they do not receive their wages (14 May 2009).

Sources report varying types of insurance coverage accessed through employment: for example, academics Paul Frijters, Leng Lee and Xin Meng, in a 2009 survey of rural to urban migration in China, describe a "'[f]ive insurance, one fund'" system that includes unemployment insurance, health insurance, pension, work injury insurance, and housing subsidies based on employer and employee contributions (Apr. 2009, Sec. 2). Li et al. report that a "'Three Insurances and One Fund'" system, in effect in Shanghai, includes unemployment insurance, pension, and health insurance, as well as a housing fund (2010, 148). Zhan writes that, "at least on paper," employers have to insure their employees against workplace injuries (2011, 253-54).

Both employers and employees contribute to insurance funds (Frijters et al. Apr. 2009, Sec. 2; Froissart 2011, 20 n. 14). The professor of political science explained that employer contributions, which are mandated by law in some municipalities, are deposited into accounts managed by the relevant municipal government division; some employers make contributions for migrant workers as well as local urban workers, while some do not (ibid.). Frijters et al. found that employers are less likely to contribute to welfare insurance for migrant workers than for urban residents (Apr. 2009, Sec. 4). In a separate paper, Frijters and Meng conclude that migrants "usually" do not receive the welfare insurance to which they are entitled (Sept. 2009). Additionally, the professor of political science indicated that municipal governments can decide if they will distribute benefits to temporary migrant workers, regardless of whether the employer has contributed to the fund, because municipalities do not consider migrants to fall within their jurisdiction (6 Feb. 2012). The professor also noted that insurance contributions are applicable only for employment in the formal sector; within the less regulated informal sector, where many non-hukou migrants are employed, it is "very unlikely" that they will receive benefits of any kind (6 Feb. 2012).

Academics indicate that the transient nature of temporary migrant labour creates barriers for accessing insurance benefits (Professor of Political Science 6 Feb. 2012; Frijters et al. Apr. 2009, Sec. 2; Chan and Buckingham Sept. 2008 600-1). Social security rights, managed at the municipal level, are not portable if migrants leave the city in which they had the insurance coverage (ibid.; Froissart 2011, 20 n. 14; Scheineson 14 May 2009). Li et al. explain that, upon retiring or moving out of Shanghai, holders of talents' residence cards can only collect their personal welfare contributions while their employers' contributions remain in the collective municipal welfare fund (2010, 148).

4.2 Education

The professor of political science indicated that access to children's education is a primary concern for temporary migrant workers (6 Feb. 2012). Sources state that, according to policy, local governments are required to provide education to the children of migrants through the public school system (Chan and Buckingham Sept. 2008, 600; Zhan 2011, 253). However, one source indicates that, in most cities, migrant children are not allowed to go to school without local hukou (Frijters and Meng Sept. 2009, 15), while another states that they must pay an admission fee to attend (Scheineson 14 May 2009). Sources also say that there are public schools available for migrants but that they are of lower quality (ibid.; Professor of Political Science 6 Feb. 2012). Additionally, while migrant children can be educated in their parents' city of work, they are still required to take their university entrance exams in their place of official registration (ibid.; OECD Feb. 2010, 8), where the curriculum may be different and competition for university admission is much more intense (Professor of Political Science 6 Feb. 2012).

5. Surveillance and Enforcement

Wang reports that, by 2002, almost all of the over 30,000 police stations in the country had computerized their management of hukou, and that the hukou records of 650 million people were accessible via a single national computer network (2011, 116). Young wrote in 2011 that "[h]ukou record collection management has been modernized, nationalized, and digitalized, and has become far more sophisticated and unified" (2011, 138). He explained that a speech by President Hu Jintao in 2011 included mention of the central government's intention to digitize and link various record collection systems, including hukou records, neighbourhood records, and tax records (11 Jan. 2012). He also noted that the hukou document has been replaced as the primary ID document in China by national ID cards [Resident Identity Cards] that are linked to hukou records (11 Jan. 2012). According to Wang, the police use hukou records for the purposes of repatriation, social control and crime fighting (2011, 119). Wang's statement was corroborated by a professor of criminal justice at Xavier University in Cincinnati specializing in Chinese policing, who, in correspondence with the Research Directorate, described the hukou system as an "all-purpose social control system" (2 Apr. 2012). The professor further added that computerized hukou records are "freely accessible" to all police officers if needed (Professor of Criminal Justice 2 Apr. 2012).

Wang reports that the residential permit cards introduced for migrants in Shanghai, Shenzhen, and other cities contain "much more extensive [personal] information" than the previously used temporary residential permit card (2011, 115). Limei Li specified that, in Shanghai at least, even temporary residence records are collected and entered into the computerized national hukou database used by the authorities (8 Feb. 2012). She added that "[d]own to the community level … there are people whose job is to collect information about migrants in the community and report it to the local police station regularly, and help migrants get [a] transient residence card" (8 Feb. 2012). Temporary residency permits are reportedly used by the local authorities to collect information on and monitor and manage the non-hukou population (Li 8 Feb. 2012; Young 2011, 138). Young explains, for example, that because the Beijing hukou management system is fully integrated with the national system and the records of other provinces, the municipal authorities are much more able to manage the migrant population (2011, 145). Limei Li added that governments encourage migrants to register with the authorities by offering certain social services to migrants with transient residence cards (1 May 2012).

Young writes that there continues to be "non-compliance" among the non-hukou migrants in terms of registering with local authorities (2011, 138). In his interview with the Research Directorate, he added that although there are too many migrants for the system to control with absolute effectiveness, failure to register one's movements with the authorities is illegal, even in the case of business travel and vacation (Young 11 Jan. 2012). He also noted that, if they were to be apprehended by the authorities, there would "certainly" be consequences for migrants without legal residency or with lapsed permits, but that it is not always clear what the punishments would be (ibid.). Wang reports that violators who are caught are subject to "fines, detention, forced repatriation, and criminal prosecution and even jail sentences" (2011, 114). He also writes that while there was a reported relaxation of random ID checks of suspected migrants in the mid-2000s,

[r]andom and humiliating checks of ID papers on the street, especially in or near train stations, surprise checks by storming into migrant housing units after midnight, and detention and forced repatriation of the permit-less appear to be continuing routinely albeit quietly now in major cities like Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Wuhan, and even in small cities in the Pearl River Delta. (Wang 2011, 119)

The professor of criminal justice explained that the 2003 law on resident identity cards authorizes the police to conduct "'on-the-spot'" ID checks in order to maintain public order and enforce the law (3 Apr. 2012). The professor further added that this law was amended in 2011 to give the police "blanket authority" to check ID cards in public places and "transport hubs," including "'railway stations, bus stations, ports, docks, airports, or places designated by the municipal governments during major events, where the police need to identify the identity of certain people'" (Professor of Criminal Justice 3 Apr. 2012).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References

Chan, Kam Wing. 2009. "The Chinese Hukou System at 50." Eurasian Geography and Economics. Vol. 50, No. 2.

Chan, Kam Wing, and Will Buckingham. September 2008. "Is China Abolishing the Hukou System?" The China Quarterly. Vol. 195. [Accessed 24 Nov. 2011]

China. 28 April 2011. National Bureau of Statistics. "Press Release on Major Figures of the 2010 National Population Census." [Accessed 20 Feb. 2012]

China Daily [Beijing]. 6 March 2011. Wang Jinqiong. "China to Make Better Life for Migrant Workers." [Accessed 14 Feb. 2012]

Columbia East Asia Review (CEAR). N.d. "2009 Editorial Board." [Accessed 19 Apr. 2012]

Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). N.d. "Fei-Ling Wang." [Accessed 19 Apr. 2012]

Frijters, Paul, Leng Lee and Xin Meng. April 2009. "Jobs, Working Hours, and Remuneration Packages for Migrants and Urban Residents." [Accessed 30 Mar. 2012]

Frijters, Paul, and Xin Meng. September 2009. "Rural to Urban Migration in China: An Overall View." Quoted with permission. [Accessed 30 Mar. 2012]

Froissart, Chloé. 2011. "'NGOs' Defending Migrant Workers' Rights." China Perspectives. No. 2.

Li, Limei. 1 May 2012. East China Normal University. Correspondence with the Research Directorate.

_____. 8 February 2012. East China Normal University. Correspondence with the Research Directorate.

Li, Limei, and Si-Ming Li. 2010. "The Impact of Variations in Urban Registration Within Cities." One Country, Two Societies: Rural-Urban Inequality in Contemporary China. Edited by Martin King Whyte. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Li, Limei, Si-Ming Li, and Yinfang Chen. 2010. "Better City, Better Life, But for Whom?: The Hukou and Resident Card System and the Consequential Citizenship Stratification in Shanghai." City, Culture and Society. Vol. 1, No. 3.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). February 2010. Economic Survey of China, 2010. [Accessed 20 Feb. 2012]

Professor of Criminal Justice, Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio. 3 April 2012. Corerspondence with the Research Directorate.

_____. 2 April 2012. Corerspondence with the Research Directorate.

Professor of Political Science, San Diego State University. 6 February 2012. Telephone Interview.

Reuters. 17 October 2011. Chris Buckley. "Young Migrant Workers More Aware of Labor Rights: Report." [Accessed 14 Feb. 2012]

Scheineson, Andrew. 14 May 2009. "China's Internal Migrants." [Accessed 30 Mar. 2012]

United States (US). 10 October 2011. Congressional-Executive Commission on China. Annual Report, 2011. [Accessed 19 Feb. 2012]

Wang, Fei-Ling. 2011. "China's Evolving Institutional Exclusion: The Hukou System and Its Transformation." The Institutional Dynamics of China's Great Transformation. Edited by Xiaoming Huang. New York: Routledge.

_____. 2010. "Conflict, Resistance and the Transformation of the Hukou System." Chinese Society: Change, Conflict and Resistance. 3rd ed. Edited by Elizabeth J. Perry and Mark Selden. New York: Routledge.

Young, Jason. 2011. Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. 11 January 2012. Telephone Interview with the Research Directorate.

_____. "China's Changing Hukou System: Institutional Objectives, Formal Arrangements, and Informal Practices." The Institutional Dynamics of China's Great Transformation. Edited by Xiaoming Huang. New York: Routledge.

_____. 14 August 2010. "China's Hukou System Impinges on Development and Civic Rights." [Accessed 30 Mar. 2012]

Zhan, Shaohua. 2011. "What Determines Migrant Workers' Life Chances in Contemporary China? Hukou, Social Exclusion, and the Market." Modern China. Vol. 37, No. 3.

Zhang, Huafeng. 2010. "The Hukou System's Constraints on Migrant Workers' Job Mobility in Chinese Cities." China Economic Review. Vol. 21.

Zhang, Li, and Gui-xin Wang. 2010. "Urban Citizenship of Rural Migrants in Reform-Era China." Citizenship Studies. Vol. 14, No. 2

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources: A professor at Hong Kong Baptist University was unable to provide information for this Response. Attempts to contact officials at the Canadian embassies in Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, and a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, were unsuccesful.

Internet sites, including: American Journal of Sociology; Amnesty International; Australia National University; BBC; California Center for Population Research; Centre for Economic Policy Research; China — Guangdong Police, National Development and Reform Commission, National People's Congress, National Population and Family Planning Commission; China Economic Review; The China Journal; China.org.cn; The China Quarterly; Citizenship Studies; The Economist; The Financial Times; Human Rights Watch; International Journal of Human Resource Management; International Organization for Migration; Journal of Asian Public Policy; Journal of Development Economics; People's Daily Online; United Nations Development Programme; Victoria University of Wellington; Xinhua News Agency.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

Search Refworld

Countries