Phrase of the Week: Temporary Residence

The  comes from China Digital Space’s Grass-Mud Horse Lexicon, a glossary of terms created by Chinese netizens and frequently encountered in online political discussions. These are the words of China’s online “resistance discourse,” used to mock and subvert the official language around  and political correctness.

Police officer weeding out people without the proper permit. (Southern Metropolis Weekly)

Police officer weeding out people without the proper permit. (Southern Metropolis Weekly)

暂住 (zàn zhù): temporary residence

Permit to work or live in certain major cities required for those without local household registration (户口 hùkǒu or hukou) must obtain to work or live in 21 cities in China [zh], including the metropolises of Beijing, Shanghai, and Chongqing. Those in the cities without a temporary residence permit may be fined or deported.

While the disparity in development between China’s countryside and urban areas has made it economically necessary for many rural migrants to live as temporary residents in large cities, the permit system prevents them from enjoying the same privileges and rights as city natives.

The legality of these temporary residence permits is questionable, following the abolition of a similar national system. Many scholars find cities’ current systems of temporary residence permits to be unconstitutional. However, cities such as Beijing and Shanghai insist that the permits are necessary to limit migration and maintain order. Some cities have changed the name of the permits from “temporary residence permit” to “residence permit” while retaining the same basic system.

Online, “temporary residence” is applied to all Chinese citizens. Without the right to own property, and with manyforced out of their homes for development, everyone and everything is impermanent:

@空煜断锦: We don’t have any land, houses, even cemeteries that truly belong to us. We don’t have the right to choose how many children we have, to cross the border freely, or to speak freely. We don’t have the power to protect ourselves from unfair treatment. We aren’t citizens, we are denizens, renters with temporary residence on this piece of earth called China.

我们没有真正属于自己的土地、房屋甚至墓地,没有生育权,没有出入境以及言论的自由,没有保护自己不受不公平待遇的能力,我们不是公民而是居民,我们是一群暂住在中国这片土地上的租客。