Young Migrants Changing the Face of China’s Cities

AP reports on young migrant workers who no longer feel at home in the countryside and intend to spend the rest of their lives in the city, thereby altering China’s urban demographics:

Unlike older migrant workers who came to earn money for a few years before returning to their villages, the new generation intends to stay, envisioning a life in the neon-splashed cities.

For China, the shift presents a challenge: how to integrate the new arrivals into already overburdened cities. An agrarian society for thousands of years, China is on the cusp of having more urban than rural dwellers for the first time.

“People my age think, what would I do in the countryside? I don’t know how to do anything!” Li says in the simple dorm room she shares with two other women in Dongguan, a southern coastal boomtown near Hong Kong. Frilly underwear is draped in a corner and hair clips hold back makeshift privacy curtains on the bunks.

“I remember once we were growing wheat at home, it had just sprouted and it looked just like grass. I couldn’t tell the difference so I pulled it out,” she recalls. “My mom was so mad, she said, how could anyone not tell the difference between wheat and grass?”


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