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Beijing Exodus: New Population Controls Force Migrants Out Of Capital



BEIJING - Last week, Beijing authorities announced that 600,000 temporary residents had left the capital, bringing the total of the city’s migrant population down to 8,258,000 people, reports the Economic Observer.

For the past decade, the non-resident population has gone up by nearly 400,000 people each year. In 2007, Beijing’s population had already exceeded the State Council’s 2020 total population quota of 18 million people.

But since 2010, Beijing authorities have issued a series of administrative measures to discourage migrants and stem their inflow - in particular the migrant laborers working in low-end service industries. The new measures, according to the China.org.cn website include a bylaw forbidding the renting out of basements, and a regulation requiring each rental apartment room to accommodate two people at most.

On top of that, since 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, says the website. To be able to settle down in the capital, they need a Beijing hukou, a temporary resident permit. Without a hukou, migrants have no access to healthcare, education or housing, for instance.

However, some observers believe that Beijing's population control has started to exert significant pressures on the region’s economy.

According to Anbound Consulting, Beijing’s manufacturing sector currently employs about 1.8 million people, of which more than 40% are not from migrant laborers, without whom the manufacturing industry in Beijing couldn’t survive.

The service sector: the catering, building, housekeeping, entertainment, sanitation, retailing, as well as real estate services, wouldn’t be able to operated without migrant workers either.

Like any economic structural adjustment, Beijing’s compulsory control of migrants will come at a huge economic cost, Anbound said.

The Beijing Municipal Government has already realized the impact that their population control has. In its 2012 work report, the expression “Population Control” used for years was replaced by the expression “Population service management.”

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