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Young migrant worker seeks urbanization

Updated: 2013-11-26 17:32
( Xinhua)

JINAN -- After four years working in a city, Yin Tao, 27, in casual clothes with framed glasses, looks just like an average Chinese urbanite. All he lacks is a household registration, an apartment and a permanent job.

From inexperienced apprentice to capable technician, Yin has made huge gains and sacrifices by settling in Jinan, capital of east China's Shandong Province, leaving his parents behind being the most painful.

"I go back home for just two days or three in Spring Festival, National Day holiday or the busy farming season," said Yin, whose hometown is only two hours away in the province's Dong'e county, famous for its donkey hide gelatin.

It was hard enough for Yin to leave his village, but it is even harder to go back, considering the frustrations born from the shattered city dreams of his parents.

His father came to city to be a truck driver when Yin was eight. "But my father still regards himself as a farmer," Yin said. "He just can't be separated from a rural farming life."

Yin's life plan is in better shape than his father's. He is determined to live, raise his family and let his parents to spend their remaining years in comfort in the city.

"What can I do in a village?" Having almost forgotten how to farm, Yin admits he could not possibly get used to the inconvenience of a rural life again.

"No supermarkets, no buses. I can't even find a kiosk to buy a newspaper," Yin said.

People like Yin, the second generation of migrant workers, have a better education and more expectations for life and work, said Zhang Yanguo, security director of the construction site where Yin works.

"They, especially those who were born in the 1990s, are less likely to endure hardships like their fathers did," Zhang said.

Abandoning a rural identity does not make Yin an urbanite, not according to his hukou, or household registration. Acquiring an urban hukou is extremely difficult for migrant workers, but without it they are locked out of welfare, can't send their children to local schools or even give birth in a local hospital in the first place.

Now father of a 4-year-old boy, Yin feels his burden become heavier. He and his wife make a total of 5,000-6,000 yuan ($820-$985) a month, but raising a kid costs at least 1,000 yuan each month, and will be more as he grows.

Housing prices in Jinan range from 7,000 yuan to over 10,000 yuan per square meter. Purchasing an apartment seems like "mission impossible" for the couple, who live in a prefabricated building on the construction site for "free".

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, an estimated 173 million rural residents were working in cities at the end of September, and over 30 percent of them are under 30 years old.

Second generation migrant workers, having bid farewell to their rural homes, are still far from the center of city life, raising public concern about their living conditions.

A landmark policy document, approved by the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee that ended on November 12, says China will accelerate reform of its "hukou" system to help rural people become urban residents.

The document also aspires to make basic urban public services available for all permanent residents in cities and to include all rural residents in the affordable housing system and the social security network.

"We will become urban residents some day, and I hope that day will come soon," Yin said.