It’s the usual conflict between haves and have-nots. And as the entrepreneurial spirit in Shenzhen, the special economic zone in Guangdong Province, next to Hong Kong, is fading (or so the Economist reported in January), with the lowest rate of start-ups in decades, friction between people who earn money in Shenzhen and unemployed migrant workers seems to be only increasing.
In a meeting with the Hong Kong-Macau Political Consultative Council, Shenzhen’s Vice Mayor Li Ming, who doubles as the head of the police bureau, said if Shenzhen can get the legal basis, it will restrict migrant workers who have been unemployed for longer than three months from renting houses, in effect, asking them to leave the city. The suggestion was met by the council’s applause,
Don Weinland, Global Voices, quotes Nanfang Daily. Consumption has replaced investment as the most powerful engine for Shenzhen’s economic growth in 2009, for the first time since 1979, People’s Daily (quoted by News Guangdong Online), on March 15 this year, added to the Economist‘s findings.
Which is exactly what economist keep preaching – that China should, to some extent, turn its back to export-led growth and seek growth from its markets within. Just as Chongqing was designated to pull growth in China’s West, Shenzhen and Guangdong in general could pull growth in neighboring provinces, creating jobs there by investing there, and consuming the products.
But while this seems to make sense, the arrangement that you either come from outside and find work in Shenzhen within a limited period, or return to your home province or home town elsewhere has been put into question more recently. Global Voices quotes several bloggers who currently defend the rights of migrants to stay in Shenzhen, with or without a job.
The media in general have become more aware of migrants from other provinces and their rights, while the right of migrant workers to choose their work in the country’s cities freely remains strictly limited by the traditional Chinese system of household registration.