Beijing faces exodus of immigrants

By Duan Yaying
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, September 10, 2012
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Starting 2010, the quota for new permanent residents has been shrinking under the city's population control policy. Even with a college degree, migrants are not guaranteed permanent residence in the city.

In January 2011, the municipal government urged to wipe out all businesses which did not coincide with the city's functional identification as the capital of world's second-largest economy by imposing more conditions in applications for licenses, which involved 17 business sectors, 300,000 business operators and 1 million migrants in the capital city.

The policy suffered opposition from various departments before it was carried out. Zhao Lei, vice director of Beijing Development and Reforming Office, rejected the measure, stressing that population control never means to edge out an industry or the people involved in the industry.

On Feb. 1, 2011, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development issued a regulation that forbid the renting-out of basements. Later, on Aug. 24 of that year, the Beijing municipal government issued a bylaw in line with the regulation.

Also in 2011, Wang Yongxin, head of Beijing Air Defense and Disaster Prevention Bureau, vowed to clear out migrants living in the underground air defense shelters. The campaign will expel nearly 1 million tenants out of basements.

Statistics by Beijing Homelink real estate agency showed that rents in Beijing witnessed the highest growth nationwide at 13 percent, with monthly average rents hitting 3,280 yuan. The increase will continue in 2012, the report said.

On May 9, 2012, the Beijing government issued another regulation requiring that rental housing area per capita shall not be less than 5 square meters and each apartment room shall accommodate two people at most, which will edge out more tenants living in apartments with additional or subdivisions.

The decrease of immigrants will continue in subsequent years if nothing unexpected occurs, well-known online commentator Wuyue Sanren wrote in a recent article. As the economic situation in future is not optimistic, people's impulse to escape from the city will continue to rise.

According to Anbound consultancy, Beijing's population control has started to exert recognizable pressures on the region's economy.

The city registered nearly 1.8 million employees involved in manufacturing industry, more than 40 percent of which come from provinces and cities outside Beijing. The city's manufacturing industry has been unable to survive without these migrants, an Anbound research team said.

According to Anbound, Beijing can hardly maintain normal operation without migrants engaged in the service sector, especially in catering, building, housekeeping, entertaining, sanitation, retail and real estate agencies.

A compulsory control of migrants will come at a huge economic loss, Anbound said.

As a matter of fact, the Beijing government has seen the impact of population control. In 2012, the notion of population control was replaced by "population services" in the year's government work report.

As a result, administrative measures are fading out and the government is beginning to offer more services for migrants.

The change of "control" to "service" gives migrants the same treatment as permanent residents, said Professor Mao Shoulong with the Renming University of China.

Despite the fact that few migrants are able to benefit from the changes due to the city's limited population capacity, the change at least gives migrants more hope, Professor Lu said.

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