People’s Daily: Locals and Migrant Workers “Hand in Hand”, like in Developed Countries

People’s Daily / Xinhua[Main Link: http://news.xinhuanet.com/society/2011-06/15/c_121538119.htm]

“It was very scary – the scariest thing I have encountered since I was born”, Asia One (Singapore) quotes a 27-year-old owner of a denim shop in Zengcheng (增城市), Guangdong Province. That’s not to suggest that what happened there, east of Guangzhou and north of Shenzhen, would be all that spectacular – it may just be another of many unharmonious outbreaks of local dissatisfaction, and in this case, one between relative haves and have-nots, rather than between distrusting citizens and untransparent authorities.

But the Zengcheng story has become prominent enough to earn itself a Wikipedia entry as a 2011 Zengcheng riot or incident (6•11事件). While thousands of – mainly migrant workers – were involved in the protests and riots, following the man-handling of security personnel working for the local government, no deaths were reported. China.org.cn referred to some or all news surrounding the incident as rumors, and reported that a panel had been entrusted with dispelling such rumors.

Besides, the incident was also worth an editorial by People’s Daily (RMRB, 人民日报, signed Zhan Yong, 詹勇) on Wednesday, and (sub)titled

“Let different people coexist harmoniously, enter continuous industrial development hand-in-hand, with the prospect of urbanization – this is the task to master for social management today” (让不同人群和谐共处,携手融入不断发展的工业化、城市化图景中,是今天社会管理需要破解的新课题).

A RMRB editorial suggests that the CCP attaches importance to an issue, even if most of the article itself consists of platitudes, and Zengcheng isn’t even mentioned. The point the editorial tries to make is that

From a global perspective, the major industrialized countries also went through a process of social governance (社会治理, shèhuì zhìlǐ) –

the wording of which is somewhat different from the now constant leitmotif of social management (社会管理, shèhuì guǎnlǐ, as mentioned in RMRB’s subtitle), but probably means the same in substance.

From general closed-door policies to orderly (or step-by-step) liberalization (有序开放), from comprehensive exclusion [of people] to the promotion of [their] integration, the governments of many developed countries are successively making efforts to be good “referees” and “service people”, putting different nationalities and the interests of people from different regional backgrounds into harmony with one another, solve social contradictions which stem from different demands and cultures. For us, this isn’t without inspirational and referential meaning. (从普遍采取“关门政策”到有序开放、从全面排斥到促进融合,许多发达国家的政府,现在也纷纷致力当好“裁判者”和“服务员”,协调好不同民族、不同来源地居民的利益,解决好不同诉求、不同文化的社群矛盾。这对我们不无启示和借鉴意义。)

Inclusion is harmonious, and exclusion is harmful, reasons RMRB –

It is therefore that the central government brought up “the coordination of social relations”, demands “the strengthening of migrant (or floating) as well as distinctive population’s management” as important contents, and attaches importance to the perfection of a system that protects the rights of the masses, under the leadership of the party and the government. (融合则和谐,排斥则俱伤。从这个意义看,中央提出“协调社会关系”,要求把“加强流动人口和特殊人群服务管理”作为重要内容,并注重“完善党和政府主导的维护群众权益机制”,有很强的现实性和针对性。)

The editorial reminds its readers that life is as colorful, as problematic and as beautiful as shown in a long-running soap opera broadcast by Guangzhou television, “Daughter-in-Law from outer Province, and the Local Man” (外来媳妇本地郎), and asks if not, “the development of our society should become just this kind of exciting drama?” This depended on social management and united efforts of all individuals, the editorial suggests.

The referral to a Guangzhou-produced television series is the only indication that the editorial actually reacts to the Zengcheng incident.

Xinhua doesn’t provide a commenter function next to the editorial, and on Enorth (Tianjin), who also republished the RMRB editoral, there are no comments yet (暂时还没有评论).

According to Chinese Wikipedia, there are no national regulations for the management of inter-provincial migration in place, and such regulations are mainly issued by the provinces and cities (目前中国没有制定流动人口管理的法规,流动人口管理的法规主要是省市一级).  No source given by the article, but most news articles about the issue seem to suggest that Guangdong Province is conducting research of its own, as to if migrant workers should be granted temporary or even permanent residence.

Even if the central government repealed the household registration system nation-wide, against the provincial level’s resistance, it’s hardly conceivable that Guangdong – and many other well-off provinces – would take orders. In fact, Kam Wing Chan (University of Washington), believes that  reforms of the registration – or hukou – system hadn’t changed the situation in principle, but rather devolved responsibility for hukou policies to local governments, which in many cases actually makes permanent migration of peasants to cities harder than before.

____________

Related
» Wen Jiabao’s Endgame, April 21, 2011
» Shenzhen: Here to Stay, May 11, 2010
» Household Registration Reform, March 2, 2010
» The Sticking Point (comment), Jan 28, 2011

5 Responses to “People’s Daily: Locals and Migrant Workers “Hand in Hand”, like in Developed Countries”

  1. Doesn’t “social governance” (Peoples Daily) sound like a national approach, more than “social mangagement”?

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  2. Yes, it does, and social governance adds politics to mere bureaucratic measures taken by local authorities – those which issued a migrant worker’s hukou, and those where he currently works (if he or she registered there at all). I’ve read somewhere that “22 provinces” have established a common information system, or data system, concerning migrant workers (22 provinces because the “renegade province”, for obvious reasons, doesn’t participate in that information system). The center makes the provincial level agree to reporting standards and standards on the issuance of hukous or id cards etc in inter-provincial meetings, but its main interest seems to be in family planning or birth control there.

    If there is anything that really binds things (or provinces) together, it’s probably the party, rather than the central government. The CCP’s CCP’s Politics and Law Committee directs and coordinates the work of Chinese courts, procuratorates, and police, and overrides regular courts’ decisions if need be. The committee’s chairman (and politbureau standing committee member) Zhou Yongkang seems to be the pacemaker in this field. But if the party see the country as a booty, as it seems to do, central and regional officials are “comrades” rather than people issuing and taking orders. After all, most central officials were once local officials.

    The RMRB article is a window speech, and a silly one at that.

    Like

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