Qing Wang tells Radio China should adopt UK immigration laws

07 March 2013

Qing Wang

Professor Qing Wang believes China should adopt the same immigration policies used in Europe to replace its ancient ‘hukou’ system to solve the growing problem of how migrant workers are treated and income inequality.

The Chinese Government recently released its income distribution reform plans, which have taken years to put together, but shows the increasing concern over the widening wealth gap and the effect it could have on the country’s economic growth.

The ‘hukou’ system, which dates back to 1949, has split China's 1.3 billion people along urban-rural lines, preventing many of the roughly 800 million Chinese who are registered as rural residents from settling in cities and enjoying basic urban welfare and services.

Professor Wang, who is director of Marketing, Innovation and the Chinese Economy (MICE) network, believes China should adopt the best practices of the West to tackle its growing social problems.

“I think the ‘hukou’ system needs to be reformed,” said the Warwick Business School Professor on China Radio International. “It was set up to control migration of people from one city to another and not let them move around - that is completely outdated now. For a large country like China there needs to be some kind of registering system, but it should not be a closed system for the existing residents.

“The Chinese Government want to move people from the rural areas to the cities, but the ‘hukou’ does not allow them the benefits of the city. If you think of the thousands of migrants moving from rural areas there is no system in place to recognise their contribution to the city or set out a clear route for them to become a resident. There is no way they can benefit from the welfare and social care of the city that they contribute to.

“China can learn from western systems in terms of immigration and the permanent residents system that the UK uses. There needs to be some criteria that once people fulfil they can then have benefits, healthcare and residential status.

“There should be some hope for those migrant workers for their future in the city. They have worked hard, it is not just a short term proposition, it should give them the opportunity of a future in the city.”

China plans to spend 40 trillion yuan ($6.4 trillion) to bring 400 million people to cities over the next decade as the new leadership, which is currently being enrolled at the National People’s Congress, looks to boost growth through domestic consumption.

And Professor Wang believes the new leadership should bring in social corporate responsibility to help fuel that domestic demand. She says businesses in China, especially the state-owned enterprises, should be made to improve the social conditions of the area they expand in.

The Professor of Marketing and Innovation said: “Enterprises should recognise more social corporate responsibility than they have in the past. That is what the Indian Government has been doing for a long time. They made it a requirement that any corporate bidding for a project from Government had to help the poor, like building a sewage system. Tata was very proactive in these initiatives.

“China should do more of that, they should not rely on the Government to do everything. Private enterprises are capable of doing more of those projects.”

To listen to Qing Wang on China Radio International here.

Professor Qing Wang teaches Buyer Behaviour on the undergraduate courses.


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