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  • Print publication year: 2014
  • Online publication date: September 2014

Chapter One - Dagongmei in the Context of Rural-urban Migration Processes in Contemporary China


Since the late 1970s, the Chinese state has assumed a leading role in economic development. Deng Xiaoping took measures that boosted economic growth just when he lost faith in the Maoist model of central planning and collectivization, as well as realized that in terms of economic development China was considerably behind both new Asian Tigers (South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore) and Western capitalists. Rapid economic growth has legitimized the strategy of export-oriented industrialization, pursued through the open-door policy: export-processing, special economic zones, and incentives for foreign investors. Chinese scholars agreed to this kind strategy, as they perceived it as an application of the “grand international cycle” theory, which, in its fundamental nature, describes capital global search for new, cheap sites for investments.

In a short time, China's economic reforms have resulted in a phenomenon of millions of rural people seeking a better life and economic opportunity in the urban areas. These rural to urban migration flows made an impact on almost every social, economic, and political issue in the People's Republic of China. Migrants represent both agents of change at the places of origin and vital contributors to the economic growth in destination areas. Moreover, through migration peasants not only have become a part of the globalization process, but they also indirectly uncovered the rural and interior areas to its effects. Chinese migrants have been the subject of a considerable amount of academic studies of both Chinese and non-Chinese scholars.