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Migrants Search for a New Life

The Greek philosopher Aristotle said around 2,300 years ago that people moved to cities to earn a living and to enjoy a better life.

That is still true for most migrants who currently work in Beijing, a city that has 15 million residents, one quarter of whom are from outside the capital.


Thirty-two-year-old Deng Daoju is one of the migrants who dreams of making a fortune and living a better life in the big city.


She left her home, a small village in southwest China's Sichuan Province, eight years ago and found a job as a cleaner at a government institute in Beijing.


Deng's life now is relatively uncomplicated. She lives, works and eats within the institution's complex. Her husband also has a job at the institute.


Deng said she seldom goes beyond her work unit except on weekends when she goes to visit her husband's family in a small town in the neighboring Hebei Province. The family look after the couple's nine-year-old daughter.


The world of 33-year-old Tie Yinghong is not so quiet.


Tie quit his job in a small city in north China's Shanxi Province earlier this year and came to Beijing with a dream of starting his own business.


"Beijing is a fascinating place. I have more opportunities to make a fortune here and have more access to information and resources," said Tie, who majored in computer science at university and wants to set up a software company in the city.


However, Tie said he was under great pressure as he has not made much progress with his plan.


In order to make the city more friendly, the municipal government has adopted a number of measures to root out discrimination against migrants. This includes the abolition of a decade-old regulation that put restrictions on migrants ability to find a home and a job.


However, as the number of migrants keeps on rising, the challenge of accommodating more and more newcomers could become more difficult for the capital because of a lack of resources, said Zhang Shouquan, a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Beijing Committee.


"Migrant people want to seek job opportunities or better lives in Beijing. Their motives give little cause for criticism.


"But Beijing must rein in its population growth as the city's limited natural resources, including water, land and energy, cannot stand too many more people," said Zhang.


He said it was very difficult to strike a balance between increasing population and limited resources.


(China Daily April 27, 2005)

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