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Push Forces from China

My surveys in 2007 and 2015 (see Table 8.2) found that most respondents were from rural areas and small towns, while nearly a third were from cities. Before emigrating, most (64.7 %) were from families of medium economic level, and only 25.9 % were from well-to-do families. Regarding schooling, less than a quarter had tertiary education or higher.

Table 8.2 Profile of new Chinese migrants in the Philippines (2007: N = 176; 2015: N = 74)

Hometown’s origin

Survey

time

Rural area (%)

Small town (%)

Urban area (%)

2007

55.9

14.7

29.4

2015

36.1

27.8

36.1

Family economic

Poor

Medium

Well-to-do

level

2007

9.4

64.7

25.9

Educational level

Primary school or below

Secondary

school

Tertiary or above

2015

16.2

59.5

24.3

Although China is rising as an economic power, it struggles to provide sufficient opportunities for its huge population, especially in the villages. The country has long suffered from uneven economic development, whether between urban and rural areas or between east and west. To mitigate the pressure generated by its huge population, especially its surplus rural labor force, parts of the population are encouraged to move, either domestically or overseas. In China, people move from the poor mid-west to the relatively rich eastern and southern coastal provinces such as Guangdong, Jiangsu and Zhejiang. Others leave China for other countries.

Urban residents, usually with a better education and a higher economic status, have advantages in the labor market competition over rural residents. The latter, lacking education, social capital and economic resources, leave home to seek opportunities in cities. Those who are connected to a migrant social network and influenced by Qiaoxiang culture, such as the Fujianese, often cast their eyes abroad.

Migration networks play a key role in promoting the new wave of migration since most new Chinese migrants to the Philippines continue to be from Quanzhou, the native home of most Chinese Filipinos. Why do they want to try their luck in the Philippines, an underdeveloped country plagued by poverty and unemployment? What attracts them there? I argue that the pull factors play a more central role than the push factors.

 
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