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This paper asks two primary questions surrounding internal migration in China. First, how have the PRC’s tactics of prohibiting and managing internal migration towards the cities changed over time? To answer this, the paper takes a chronologically descriptive approach concerning the geographic and political history of the PRC’s attempts at suppressing, controlling, and managing rural-to-urban migration as well as how those attempts have changed over a period of roughly seventy years. Early on, the PRC relied on forcefully repatriating migrants back to the countryside. Despite being much more flexible today, massive campaigns to expel migrants from the cities have persisted into the modern day. This brings into focus the paper’s second primary question: How has the PRC undergone a shift from radically prohibiting internal mobility (especially towards the cities) to adopting a much more managerial stance towards controlling internal migration towards the cities? Additionally, this study showcases how rural-urban migration has fueled regional conflict between coastal and inland provinces largely beginning in the late 1980s.


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19 Jul 2022
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  • Alternative title
    • Managing Internal Migration in Modern China

  • Journal title
    • International Social Science Review

  • Volume
    • 96

  • Issue
    • 3

  • Date submitted

    19 July 2022

  • Keywords
  • Additional information
    • Acknowledgements:

      Bryan Winter, Ph.D., is an adjunct faculty instructor in Geography in the Colorado Community College System.