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Labor Transplant: "Point-to-Point" Transnational Labor Migration in East Asia



The increasing labor migration from China to other Asian countries since the late 1980s is often attributed to the ascendance of the free market that has driven China’s internal transformation as well as the Asian regionalization. The actual process of the labor migration is however tightly constrained. Migrants are extracted from their hometowns and inserted in a foreign workplace with great precision, and they are obliged to return home once the job contract expires. The movement thus assumes the form of “labor transplant.” Unlike project-based labor deployment that is collectively organized, labor transplant is individualized and it seeks to follow, monitor, and control particular individuals’ specific journeys. This mode of migration emerged in response to the structural contradiction between upward concentration of capital and downward outsource of labor management in the international economy, and the related tension between the fragmentation of labor management and the continuing centralized regulation of migration. The central players in labor transplant are multiple intermediaries in China and the receiving countries, including public institutions, commercial recruitment companies and individual go-betweens, who collaborate with each other transnationally.
The South Atlantic Quarterly 111:4, Fall 2012
 10.1215/00382 876 -1724156 © 2012 Duke University Press
Biao Xiang
Labor Transplant:
“Point-to-Point” Transnational
Labor Migration in East Asia
Ye Li, a twenty-five-year-old woman in northeast
China, paid a labor recruitment company $8,000
as an agent’s fee in August 2008 to find work for
her as an office clerk in Singapore. After three
months of anguished waiting, she was suddenly
told that she was to fly out in two days. A ticket
had already been bought for her, and all her docu-
ments, including her passport, education certifi-
cates, and copies of her ID card, were in the hands
of the company. She and seven other workers,
who did not know each other and who would work
for different employers in Singapore, were escorted
to the airport. The staff from the recruitment
company checked them in and asked them to sign
two contracts on the spot, one in Chinese and the
other in English. This was the first time that Ye
saw the name of her employer in Singapore. When
I talked to the workers at the boarding gate, they
were still debating what the contracts were for:
were they for the Chinese recruiter, its Singapor-
ean counterpart, or the Singaporean employers?
Immediately before the plane’s departure,
the company staff appointed Ye Li as the team
leader and gave her the workers’ documents and
eight uniforms of the Singaporean recruitment
company. The workers were instructed to change
722 The South Atlantic Quarterly Fall 2012
into the uniforms, with the Singaporean company’s logo and name on both
the front and back, just before landing (otherwise the T-shirts might be
creased if they changed too early). The bright purple uniforms were imme-
diately recognizable to airport staff in Singapore. A staff person approached
them before they reached the immigration desk, took the documents from
Ye Li, and ushered them to a separate room, which I was not allowed to
enter. As I learned later, the workers and all the documents were handed
over to the driver of the Singaporean recruitment company. In Singapore the
recruiter or the employer must inform the airport about the arrival of groups
of foreign workers and meet them on arrival. From the airport the workers
were taken straight to a clinic for medical examinations (they had passed
tests for HIV and other contagious diseases in China), which was followed
by a lengthy briefing by the recruitment company, and they were finally sent
to their dormitories in different locations. They started work the next day.
This peculiar traveling experience was repeated when the workers
returned home at the end of their job contracts. Returning workers are given
air tickets and their passports once they are at the immigration departure
checkpoint. At that time they also collect the unpaid salary they had earned
over the past year or two, for it is standard practice for employers to pay
migrant workers a monthly living allowance of between 10 and 50 percent
of their wages, and then remit the balance owed immediately before their
actual departure. These methods are intended to prevent workers from run-
ning away or overstaying their visas. Ye’s job contract explicitly prohibited
her from traveling to any country during the contract period and from
arranging her own flight back to China.
Ye Li is one of an increasing number of Chinese who have sought
overseas employment since the 1980s. At the end of 2011, approximately
800,000 Chinese were working overseas on contracts longer than a year, a
tenfold increase since 1990, when there were 58,000.1 Japan, South Korea,
and Singapore are the three top destinations, collectively accounting for
nearly 40 percent of Chinese migrant workers worldwide. In November
2004, there were about 100,000 registered Chinese workers in Japan,
80,000 in Singapore, and 47,000 in South Korea.2 Ye Li’s migration experi-
ence, which I call “labor transplant,” is common to unskilled workers who
migrate in the region through legal means. Japan, South Korea, and Singa-
pore seek not only “just-in-time migration” but also “to-the-point allocation”;
that is, migrants must be sent to the exact place where they will start work-
ing immediately once arriving on the border.3 No visa is issued before it is
confirmed exactly when and where the migrant is going. Migrants are
Xiang Labor Transplant 723
extracted from their hometowns and inserted in a foreign workplace; the
journey between and the space beyond the two points are minimized in the
migrants’ experience. Migration in this case is not about how migrants
move and explore but how they are moved with great precision. Yet unlike
transplanting plants or organs, which ultimately aims at integration, labor
transplantation encapsulates the migrants in tightly guarded spaces to
ensure that they can be transplanted back anytime. This system of migration
management can be aptly summarized by the Chinese expression “one car-
rot, one hole.” This phrase refers to the situation in state socialism when
people could not change jobs, and work units could not create or remove
positions unless instructed by the state. While the Chinese Communist gov-
ernment has put “carrots” on the move as part of its market-oriented reform
since the early 1980s, the migrants find themselves trapped in “free” coun-
tries by policies that are more restrictive than those in pre-reform China.
Labor transplant as a form of migration is not new; what is new is that
transplant is radically individualized. The transplants are not collectively
organized but are facilitated by private recruitment agents; migrants take
their own initiative to migrate and work in dispersed places for different
employers. Labor transplant combines three rather distinct types of individ-
ualization: the subjective, the universal administrative, and the particular.
First, there is postsocialist subjective individualization in life strategies and
outlook. Migration is seen as a self-realizing, life-changing, entrepreneurial
project that involves high investment—the agent fees for jobs in Japan, South
Korea, and Singapore were between $5,000 and $8,000 (RMB 40,000 and
60,000) in the late 2000s—but may also yield high returns.
This trend of subjective individualization is particularly evident in my
main research site, northeast China. Formerly the nation’s center of heavy
and military industries, the region experienced massive labor layoffs as a
result of factory closures and privatization of state-owned enterprises in the
late 1990s. The formerly well-protected and privileged socialist workers with
lifelong jobs and cradle-to-grave welfare benefits now have to sell their labor
on the market. People borrow tens of thousands (RMB) to go overseas not
only because they have lost jobs but more importantly because they want to
be one step ahead in a wild competition for wealth accumulation. Migration
is often portrayed as a step to accumulate one’s “first barrel of gold,” a phrase
that has been widely used in China in both public media and daily conversa-
tion since the mid-1990s and that typically refers to one’s first profitable
business deal. The desire for this has been compounded by a widespread
fear of missing out. In a society that is enveloped by “a sense of running out
724 The South Atlantic Quarterly Fall 2012
of time, of urgency, and of great risk taking,”4 everyone fears that missing out
on wealth now also means missing out on all possible future opportunities.
At the end of the day, migrants finance the entire system by paying high
agent fees. That the northeast suddenly emerged as a major source of outmi-
gration in the 1990s despite the lack of any emigration tradition is to a great
extent attributable to the postsocialistic individualization.
For migrants to pursue migration as individual projects and for the
state to move migrants individually, the migrants have to become legally
definable individuals. In this sense, administrative individualization forms a
basis of labor transplant. The ID card introduced nationwide in 1986 made it
possible for any adult Chinese citizen to establish his or her individual iden-
tity independently. The urban housing reforms that started in the 1990s
encouraged citizens to buy previously state-owned housing, and a housing
property certificate is now widely used by migrants as security in dealing
with agents or creditors. Notarization offices that were first set up in 1982
have been indispensable in producing legal documents for individuals.
Exit control from China is also individualized. International labor out-
migration (officially called “international labor cooperation”) was originally
presented as a mission for building world socialist solidarity from the 1950s
through the end of the 1970s. In the 1980s it was then defined as a means
of earning foreign currencies for the state but is now promoted as a means
of poverty alleviation, employment generation, and a way to transform
individual migrants and raise their “quality” (tigao suzhi). A 1986 law allowed
ordinary Chinese citizens to apply for private passports for the first time,
and by 2005 most Chinese citizens could get passports with an ID card
and criminal clearance. The 2007 Passport Law claims passport possession
as a right of all citizens. The development of these new infrastructures for
individualization was indispensable for making new “mobile subjects”—
individuals whose relationships with larger institutions render migration
taken on one’s own initiative thinkable, feasible, and even profitable—and
subsequently enabled the rapid increase in general mobility.
Administrative individualization treats each and every migrant as an
undifferentiated individual who is subject to the same rules, instead of as
members of qualitatively different communities. This enables the control of
every individual on an aggregate level from afar through the creation of the
typical, “average” individual as the subject of governance.5 As such, individu-
alization is the flip side of totalization. The classification of individuals does
not seek to highlight individual differences but aims at devising a complete,
exhaustive “totalizing classificatory grid” in which every migrant is located.6
Xiang Labor Transplant 725
While universal administrative individualization provides an opera-
tional basis for labor transplant, the central task of labor transplant is a third
mode of individualization, the particular. Labor transplant seeks to follow,
monitor, and control particular individuals’ specific journeys as they unfold.
Instead of imagining individuals as interchangeable and abstract statistical
entries, labor transplant focuses on migrants’ bodies and the ability to track
the movement of those bodies. Instead of aggregating and homogenizing, it
differentiates and specifies. It does not lead to totalization. You either trans-
plant the right person to the right place at the right time, or you do not. The
“point” in “point-to-point” migration is not a particular place or locality but
is, rather, reduced to an individual, a dormitory room, or a spot on an assem-
bly line. Yet, the points are always real people and real positions instead of
merely numbers, symbols, or documents.
How is particular individualization achieved practically? Instead of
relying on the general legibility that enables social manipulation from the
center, as James Scott describes,7 particular individualization is based on
measures that are complex and complicating, dispersed and case specific. It
combines mechanisms of the free market with tight state control, and entre-
preneurial individual sentiment with old-fashioned bureaucratic practices.
In the next section I will first trace how particular individualization
results from the decoupling of capital and labor in a number of sectors where
migrant workers are concentrated. The disassociation, as manifest in sub-
contracting, outsourcing, and flexible hiring, leads to the fragmentation of
employment relations, which contradicts the centralization of migration reg-
ulation. This structural tension gives rise to particular individualization and
to labor transplant as solutions. I then describe how state policies and, more
important, various types of intermediaries actually transplant labor. State
policies pigeonhole migrants into finely differentiated classificatory grids,
tie them to employers, enforce the migrants’ compulsory return, and delegate
regulatory power to a third party, the intermediaries. The intermediaries are
transnationally linked and coordinated but are first and foremost locally
rooted. The intermediaries transplant the workers by planting them in vari-
ous institutions; for instance, they pressure migrants’ family members in
China to prevent migrants overseas from going underground or overstaying.
The state reaches individual migrants by delegating power to intermediar-
ies, who in turn monitor the individuals by embedding them in complex
social webs.
Since this context-specific institutional matrix is central to the pro-
cess of labor transplant, it makes sense to juxtapose and compare the three
726 The South Atlantic Quarterly Fall 2012
labor-receiving countries, which represent three types of migration man-
agement. Japan admits unskilled workers from China through an “indus-
trial trainee” scheme, ostensibly an international aid program to train work-
ers from Third World countries based on bilateral government agreements.
The program is directly managed by the Japan International Training Coop-
eration Organization (JITCO), which was set up by the Japanese govern-
ment in 1991. In contrast, Singaporean policies are market driven and eco-
nomically liberal. Singapore imports foreign labor according to employers’
demands and relies almost entirely on commercial entities for placement.
South Korea fit in between these models. South Korea copied the Japanese
trainee system from 1993 to 2004, when that system was replaced by the
employment permit program, but the recruitment procedure for Chinese
workers remains largely unchanged, at least until 2008.8 The central figure
was the Korea Federation of Small and Medium Businesses (KFSB), particu-
larly its agency the Korea International Training Cooperation Corps (set up in
1994), which represented employers’ interests. South Korea, at least before
2008, represented a corporatist governance pattern in which policies are
based on consensus between business and government. Despite these differ-
ences, however, labor transplant is a common practice in all three countries.
This essay is part of a larger project on labor migration from China to
the three destination countries. My fieldwork in China was primarily car-
ried out across Liaoning province, in northeast China. During the field-
work I was appointed as a member of the “expert advisory team for over-
seas employment” by the Ministry of Labor and Social Security. This enabled
me to attend government working meetings and to interview senior officials.
In addition I visited the three destination countries to interview recruit-
ers, employers, government officials, and nongovernmental organization
activists. In total I interviewed more than two hundred informants in the
four countries between July 2004 and November 2007, and my research in
Singapore continues.
Labor-Capital Decoupling
The emergence of individualized labor transplant can be attributed first to
the dissociation between labor and capital in a number of economic sectors.
A typical example is the construction industry, which hired nearly 30 per-
cent of Chinese migrant workers overseas in 2004.9 The decoupling was first
driven by capital intensification. In the 1970s, when labor migration in Asia
was primarily tied to specific projects, few projects exceeded $100 million in
Xiang Labor Transplant 727
total contract value. By the 1980s, a single contract could easily exceed
$1 billion. At the same time, the average profit rate of construction projects
dropped from 20 percent in the 1970s to below 10 percent in the 1980s,10
and then down to 7 percent in the 1990s and 2000s.11 As such, enterprises
had to engage with ever-larger projects in order to earn profits, and smaller
companies were gradually wiped out. Capital intensification has been pushed
by the integrated-development model, whereby construction, investment,
and long-term management are packed together, especially in such proj-
ects as building ports and industrial zones. Contractors are expected to raise
funds to invest, design, build, manage, and finally recoup their investment
by running the infrastructure on a commercial basis before transferring
it back to the host government. Specific contractual practices include the
build-operate-transfer (BOT), build-operate-own-transfer, and engineering-
procurement-construction models. A Chinese industrial analyst estimated
that BOT was responsible for about 60 percent of all contract projects world-
wide in the mid-2000s.12 Eager to follow this global market trend, the Chi-
nese government promulgated special policies in 1999 to encourage Chinese
companies to adopt the BOT model.13
As projects became more capital intensive, labor management was
increasingly subcontracted or “handed down.” Large companies subcontract
labor-intensive tasks to smaller building companies, which then outsource
labor recruitment to agents, who recruit labor from ever more remote places
in countries that supply labor. As a result, increasing numbers of companies
are involved in the chain of labor management. For example, China Con-
struction, the largest construction company in China, entered the interna-
tional market as a labor supplier in the late 1970s. It used to deploy its own
employees to clients’ projects, but it is now completely reliant on labor pro-
vided by numerous external building companies. In fact, China Construc-
tion engages so many labor suppliers that it has had to classify them into
four levels in order to manage the process. Thus capital management and
labor management have become ever more distanced. This is part of the
general trend of increasing outsourcing, subcontracting, vertical (dis)inte-
gration, and the proliferation and sophistication of supply chains. But it is
important to note that the disassociation between capital and labor in China
is compelled not only by the global market but also by the socialist state. The
central government, for example, issued two documents in a single year,
1984, to urge state-owned construction companies to reduce permanent
staff and outsource building tasks to smaller companies in order to increase
728 The South Atlantic Quarterly Fall 2012
At the same time that capital and labor were decoupled in the con-
struction industry, employers of migrant labor in Japan, Singapore, and
South Korea have changed from large corporations to small, low-end busi-
nesses. As low-end businesses are almost exclusively national or local in
ownership and operation, this shift implies a decoupling between foreign
labor and foreign capital and subsequently a blurring of the demarcation
between the international and domestic economies. Chinese officials
reported that it was increasingly difficult in the 1990s for Chinese con-
struction companies to obtain projects in Japan and consequently project-
affiliated migration to Japan declined significantly.15 In 2003, only 12 per-
cent of the 14,700 laborers from one province in northeast China who went
abroad were tied to designated projects.16 Instead, increasing demand for
Chinese workers comes from small enterprises.17 Chinese migrants in Japan
and South Korea now typically work in agriculture and husbandry, food
processing, and low-end manufacturing in household enterprises. In Singa-
pore, Chinese transplants are commonly found in logistics, manufacturing,
trading companies, and low-end service industry (such as small restaurants
and retail shops). Companies that need foreign workers the most are no
longer international investors or exporters, as originally envisaged by the
Japanese and South Korean governments, but are small firms often located
in remote areas.
This change was obvious enough that Japan and South Korea modified
their industrial trainee system to prioritize small and medium businesses
as the primary beneficiaries. The South Korean government allowed only
companies with fewer than three hundred employees to hire foreign train-
ees.18 The 1990 revision of the Japanese Immigration Control and Refugee
Recognition Act defines the trainee system as a means of alleviating labor
shortages in small businesses.19 Instead of mobile capital racing to the bot-
tom to exploit immobile people, labor transplant moves labor to meet immo-
bile capital. It is important to note the political clout of the immobile capi-
tal at the low end of the economy. In a time of rapid socioeconomic transfor-
mation, a significant percentage of the population in the destination coun-
tries relies on low-end sectors for survival. It is a political necessity to import
cheap, unskilled labor to keep these sectors afloat.
Both the decoupling between capital and labor and the demand of
small businesses for foreign workers mean that migrants are hired in a
highly dispersed manner in scattered places. They can no longer be collec-
tively encamped. The distinction between internal and external economies
Xiang Labor Transplant 729
is blurred, as is the line between the economic and the social. As foreign
workers penetrate different parts of national space and are present in the
daily life of remote towns, migration is no longer a simple employment issue
and business concern for policy makers and employers but has become a
social concern of the public. Migrants are no longer simply a labor force but
appear as human bodies and social agents.
Though the governments of all three countries are willing to make
their migration policies as responsive as possible to smaller employers’
needs, they maintain that migration is a matter of central sovereignty not
to be dictated by employers’ demands, especially when migration becomes
more socially sensitive. As economically liberal as it is, the Singapore state
controls the number and composition of migrants by setting strict “depen-
dency ceilings,” which limits the proportion of foreign workers to local work-
ers hired by a particular employer. The ratio varies according to the migrants’
nationality. By doing so the government hopes to keep a delicate balance
between migrants of different ethnicities, which is a highly sensitive issue
in the multiethnic city-state.
On the sending side, regulation related to outmigration in China was
also centralized at the same time it was liberalized.20 For example, the dra-
matic simplification of passport application procedures, which cut out
nearly twenty steps and reduced the processing time from months to fif-
teen working days, was partly designed to centralize and unify regulations.
Previously, applicants needed political approvals from their work unit and
local government, which put everyone under strict scrutiny but in a scat-
tered manner. Some individuals, usually officials, had acquired multiple
passports by manipulating the different systems of passport application,
and this had enabled a number of corrupt officials to flee China when they
were under investigation. The complex, decentralized system was also con-
ducive to illegal outmigration. Although fighting illegal outmigration is not
necessarily a national policy priority, the central state sees the lax control of
borders at the local level, particularly in coastal provinces in southeast
China, as a sign of disobedience and disloyalty within local government.
The streamlined procedure enhanced universal individualization by subject-
ing every applicant to the same regulatory authority, the Ministry of Public
Security. The central government thus fully monopolizes citizens’ “legiti-
mate means of mobility.”21 The centralization of migration control is at odds
with the fragmentation of labor employment. This tension, I argue, gave rise
to the practice of individualized transplant.
730 The South Atlantic Quarterly Fall 2012
“Free Labor Equals Black Labor”
In order to manage the increasingly fragmented employment of foreign
labor in a centralized manner, the three labor-receiving countries have
adopted a number of policy initiatives. First, they have devised detailed,
sector-specific policies to categorize migrants. Occupations are first divided
into those that are open to foreign labor and those that are not. Each occupa-
tion is then given a “quota” for the number of migrant workers it may have.
Different occupations are subject to different regulations. JITCO, which is in
charge of foreign trainees, produces a list every year of the jobs that are open
to foreign trainees. The jobs are specified in great detail, such as “male gar-
ment making,” “canvas-made products manufacturing,” and “tailoring
in cotton material.”22 Singapore limits unskilled foreign workers from par-
ticular countries to specific sectors. For the service industry, for example,
only Malaysia, Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea, and Taiwan are “approved
source countries.” Chinese workers are allowed to work in construction,
manufacturing, marine industries, and some service establishments. The
result is that migrants are slotted into numerous “boxes,” where they are
subject to different rules.23
Second, states in all three countries tie migrants’ legal status to their
employers. Migrants are automatically illegal if they are dismissed by their
employers or change jobs without permission. Some NGOs in South Korea
have thus criticized the trainee program as a “contemporary form of slav-
ery.”24 The supposedly progressive employment permit program system
remains largely the same in this regard: migrants must work at the work-
place indicated in their original labor contract, and only in exceptional cir-
cumstances such as factory closedown can they appeal to transfer to other
employers through a government agency.25
Employers do not always like the idea that workers are completely
immobile in the destination country. In the late 1990s some small con-
struction companies in Singapore brought in workers from China and
farmed them out to other companies that needed short-term labor. This was
called “free labor” (ziyou gong) migration as opposed to the official employer-
affiliated programs. Both the Singaporean and Chinese governments
regarded this as deeply problematic. “Free labor equals black labor (heigong),”
the Chinese government declared in an urgent circular issued in 2001 to call
for a crackdown on this practice.26 The Chinese embassy in Singapore reit-
erated that “free labor is illegal,” a line that was conspicuously printed in
the certificate that authorizes Singapore labor agencies to recruit workers
from China, which I’ll explore in detail later in this essay.
Xiang Labor Transplant 731
Tying workers to employers severely impedes migrants’ bargaining
power. An incident in 2004 involving nine young women from Liaoning
province who were working in Japan provides a clear example. The workers
found a hidden camera in their changing room in the factory. This triggered
a huge outcry in China, and the Liaoning provincial government sent a
special delegation to Japan to intervene. Despite the high level of political
attention and support for the workers—which is extremely rare in other
circumstances—they decided not to bring the case to the court because if
the employer were to be found guilty, the factory would be closed down
and all the workers would be deported back to China.
Third, policies have been established to enforce the disposability of
the migrants. It is not enough to plant every carrot into the right hole. The
carrot must not grow roots. Singaporean employers are obliged to ensure
that their workers will leave the country within seven days after the termi-
nation of their work permit. Otherwise the employer will lose the $3,000
that it deposited as a “security bond” that is a precondition for applying
for visas for foreign workers, and more important, the employer will be
banned from recruiting foreign workers in the future. The Japanese trainee
system has a prerequisite that any organization that sends migrants (sup-
posedly the migrant’s employer in the sending country) must guarantee
jobs to trainees when they return in order to enforce their departure.27 The
South Korean government determines the number of foreign workers to
be admitted according to the number of exiting workers. Employers who
ensure their workers exit Korea on time are given “replacement quotas” to
bring in new ones, which is regarded as a reward. Japan also bans anyone
who has been in either country, even if the person had simply visited, from
entering again as an unskilled worker. It is feared that the migrants’ pre-
vious connections with or knowledge about the local society may impede
Transplanting migrants back also serves as a convenient means for
employers and the receiving states to avoid responsibility in case of labor
disputes and other social conflicts. Under pressure from civil society and
from the migrants themselves, the three countries do crack down on abu-
sive employers and recruitment agents, but the most common punishment
measure is to deport the migrants. The Sino-Japan International Training
Cooperation Organization, set up by the Chinese government in 1992 as
the counterpart of JITCO, identified the large-scale deportation of Chinese
trainees due to employer irregularities as a major feature of Chinese labor
migration to Japan from 2003 to 2006.28 This was so common that the
732 The South Atlantic Quarterly Fall 2012
Chinese government had to negotiate with its Japanese counterparts to slow
down deportation. These policies, although indispensable, are definitely
not sufficient for labor transplant to function. States have to rely on third
parties, namely, recruitment agencies, for implementation.
Intermediaries as “Transplanters”
As the opening vignette shows, intermediaries play a crucial role as the
actual “transplanters.” Intermediaries take different forms in the three
countries. In Japan, the leading intermediary is JITCO; KFSB is a business
association in South Korea; and in Singapore, the key players are private
recruitment companies instead of public institutions. The activities and
functions of these intermediaries, however, are similar. They are all respon-
sible for transplanting individual migrants. For example, KFSB’s 2001 guide-
lines stipulate that whenever foreign trainees arrive, the president of KFSB
should receive them at the port, double-check their identities, and instruct
them on their next movement. When migrants’ job contracts terminate, the
representative of the recruitment company in the sending country should
come to South Korea to “receive the trainees from the hand of the employer,
send them back, fill the Report on Return and submit it to KFSB.” KFSB
should confirm the report on return and submit it to the government.29
These intermediaries act as physical transplanters not only by buy-
ing tickets or driving cars, but most important by developing sophisticated
social webs that directly condition migrants’ behavior. First of all, it must be
stressed that, instead of having emerged spontaneously as a bridge between
labor demand and supply, the intermediaries are institutionally designed as
gatekeepers. In Singapore, for instance, it is technically illegal for employers
to hire workers from China directly, and they must recruit through des-
ignated agencies. Among the more than sixteen hundred licensed agen-
cies islandwide, only fifty were designated by the Singapore Ministry of
Manpower and authorized by the Chinese embassy there.30 In South Korea
almost all small businesses had to rely on KFSB for recruiting foreign work-
ers, who in turn worked exclusively with a limited number of recruitment
companies in the sending countries. Neither workers nor the Chinese
recruiters had a chance to meet or even learn about the prospective employer
until the workers were allocated by KFSB. Similarly, in Japan all workers are
admitted through JITCO. Liu Yi, the manager of a large labor-sending com-
pany in central China, attributed this exclusive gatekeeper status to the “Jap-
anese habit”: “Japanese have the habit of looking for guarantors. Employers
Xiang Labor Transplant 733
can’t hire workers directly from overseas, they need to find a guarantor orga-
nization. This guarantor shoulders social responsibilities and answers to the
government. In most cases we can’t contact companies [employers] in Japan
directly. This is the rule.”31
All the intermediaries, regardless of whether they are public institu-
tions, business associations, or private firms, work closely with numerous
other institutions in China as well as the destination countries. By doing so
they embed both migrants and employers in larger established institutional
arrangements. This provides the agents with effective leverage through
which they can affect migrants’ and employers’ behavior. In Japan, for exam-
ple, employers first submit their hiring plans to their local industry asso-
ciations. The industry association then applies for quotas on their behalf
from the national association, which in turn applies to JITCO. After col-
lecting applications from various industry associations, JITCO coordinates
with the ministries in charge of these industries to produce an aggregate
quota, and then applies for approval from the Ministry of Justice. JITCO
defines the industry associations as the “primary-tier recipient units” of
trainees and employers as the “secondary-tier recipient units.” The pri-
mary recipients supervise the secondary. The migrant worker does not sign
a contract with the employer for the first year; instead the employer or the
industry association signs agreements with the labor sending company—
the JITCO-designated recruitment company in China. Labor migration is
thus deemed as a collaboration between the two organizations. The primary
recipients must report to the local immigration bureau about their trainees
at least once every three months or every month for the first six months if the
association is a first timer. The association should keep a diary to record
their daily activities of managing the trainees, which must be copied to the
bureau. The association should also report to JITCO. When the job contracts
expire or are terminated, the local industry association is required to ensure
that the workers leave Japan on time.32
Both the primary and secondary recipient units will be banned from
recruiting foreign workers for three years if they fail to report to the Border
Entry Bureau about a trainee absconding, if a trainee commits criminal
activities that may damage the reputation of the trainee system, or if more
than 20 percent of the workers abscond or fail to return due to the recipient
units’ inadequate discipline. The Japanese government calls such negli-
gence “illegitimate activity.”33 The primary and secondary recipients are
mutually liable to each other. If one conducts illegitimate activities, the other
will be punished for “equivalent illegitimate behavior.”34
734 The South Atlantic Quarterly Fall 2012
The recruitment process in the sending context is equally complex.
Recruitment companies in China cannot directly contact either the primary
or the secondary-tier recipient in Japan. Based on government-approved quo-
tas, JITCO places orders for workers with its Chinese counterpart, the Sino-
Japan International Training Cooperation Organization. The Sino-Japan
Organization in turn distributes the recruitment quotas to a number of
state-owned corporations. These corporations sign contracts with Japanese
industry associations and process legal and administrative paperwork. They
are called “window” companies because, as holders of a special license for
labor export, they are the only legitimate “window” through which Chinese
workers can migrate overseas. Located in major cities and staffed by urbane
professionals, including children of senior Communist cadres, the staff of
these “windows” are not going to mingle with unskilled manual laborers in
villages. Instead they outsource the task of recruitment to agents in prefec-
tures, who in turn subcontract to subagents in local districts or rural town-
ships, who are referred to colloquially as “the legs.” The legs are normally
connected to public authority in one way or another. The legs can be institu-
tions such as vocational schools, or they can be individuals such as party
cadres or teachers. The multiple actors thus form long recruitment chains.
The structure of recruitment chains is crucial for the enforcement of
point-to-point transplanting. Golden Stage, a middle-level company special-
izing in labor recruitment for Japan, pays its legs—village heads—$100 for
detailed information on each candidate it recruits. In one instance, a woman
chosen for a job in Japan was immediately dumped after the village head
reported that she was in the midst of a divorce. The general manager of
Golden Stage declared with some satisfaction, “The woman may be mentally
and psychologically unstable when divorcing, and may create problems over-
seas!”35 It is a common practice that legs conduct detailed interviews with
would-be migrants and reject anyone who has relatives or friends overseas,
who betrays some knowledge of the destination country, or gives any other
indication that he or she might step out of the cage of legality and be hard to
transplant back.
Some legs also assist companies at higher levels to discipline workers
through a method called lianzuo, or “linked seats.” An invention of the Qin
emperor (ca. 200 BC), lianzuo put a group of migrants—who may not have
known each other—into a team to share liability; if one misbehaves, all are
punished. Thus fellow migrants are turned into police. I was told that this
method works particularly well if the migrants are from the same commu-
nity. As a recruiter recalled, after a worker he recruited to South Korea
Xiang Labor Transplant 735
absconded, her family was immediately inundated by visits and telephone
calls from the families of other lianzuo migrants. The worker swiftly and
voluntarily returned to the factory.
Transplant is thus in essence “transnational planting.” Migrants are
embedded in local social milieu and tied to institutions at various points
along the transnational journey. What appears to be a point-to-point transna-
tional flight is in fact constituted by numerous connections within national
space in both the sending and receiving countries. Connections become
transnational only at the point where local connections reach the national
center, which coordinates with its counterparts internationally. Since the
migrants are strictly subjugated to the established national order, their trans-
national networks, though wide and dense, do not form a quasi-autonomous,
potentially transgressive space. In contrast to “transnationalism from below
and the image of globalization as “pluri-territorial, polycentric and multi-
scalar” processes where all scales “collapse,”36 we witness a “distributive”
model of transnationalism.
Individualized labor transplant, although particularly well developed in East
Asia, is not unique to the region. Countries in the Persian Gulf have practiced
similar policies for decades. The factors in East Asia that gave rise to individu-
alized labor transplant are common across the world. Capital-labor decou-
pling and the increasing demand for cheap labor by low-end small businesses
mean that employment relations become ever more fragmented both institu-
tionally and spatially. A small company in a remote place may need one or
two foreign workers for one or two years. The regulation of migration, how-
ever, remains a jealously guarded prerogative of state sovereignties, and its
operation has become even more centralized, precisely because of increasing
public concerns about migration and perceived national vulnerability in the
face of globalization. Moving each migrant worker to each workplace seems
to be a solution.
Labor transplant also reflects a broader, “point-to-point” pattern of glo-
balization. James Ferguson has called our attention to the fact that “highly
selective and spatially encapsulated forms of global connections are com-
bined with widespread disconnection and exclusion.”37 As such, globaliza-
tion takes the form of “global-hopping” instead of “global-covering.”38 Labor
transplant also reminds us of the “spaghetti bowl” model of international
trade as described by Jagdish Bhagwati. International trade does not take
736 The South Atlantic Quarterly Fall 2012
place in an open, flat, boundless market where goods flow freely but con-
sists of definite lines whereby selected items are traded between particular
countries under specific terms.39
Ferguson characterizes point-to-point globalization as “socially thin.”
He argues that this social thinness, that is, minimum engagement with the
local society and separation from any nonproductive factors, allows capital to
move around smoothly. My study indicates a different situation. States in
East Asia devise complex policies of classification and differentiation, and
intermediaries develop widespread webs consisting of heterogeneous social
actors that emplace migrants both institutionally and spatially. The interme-
diaries form parallel recruitment chains in the sending and receiving coun-
tries, simultaneously planting the migrants in the home community (for
instance through “linked seats”) and overseas (through surveillance by local
employers’ associations). The recruiters are connected to each other transna-
tionally only through state-designated windows. Such social embeddedness
provides a basis for transnational transplant.
Underlying the highly restrictive transplant process is not a denial of
individuality; on the contrary, it is predicated on radical individualization.
Postsocialist subjective individualization produces not only free laborers
no longer tied to state institutions—to be transplanted, but more impor-
tant, keen investors and risk takers (the migrants) who ultimately finance
the system. Universal administrative individualization, as epitomized by
the introduction of ID cards, private passports, and other legal documents,
enables people to seek migration as an individual project. While universal
individualization creates bureaucratically governable mobile subjects, par-
ticular individualization goes one step further and re-embeds the docu-
ment-bearing individuals into specific social milieu. The combination of
the three types of individualization explains how labor transplant works.
This does not mean that individualized labor transplant has become a
closed system where no changes can be made. In the short term, intermedi-
aries provide an effective entry point for intervention. During my fieldwork,
few migrants questioned the legitimacy of the state policies of point-to-point
transplant. They are instead gravely concerned about intermediaries. Com-
mercial recruitment agencies often overcharge, fail to fulfill promises, or
deliberately mislead migrants. Better regulation, especially that which will
streamline the structure of recruitment chains, may improve the specific
conditions of labor transplanting. NGOs in destination countries, driven by
ideals that place migrants’ rights above national state sovereignty, may also
effectively disrupt the nation-based social webs of transnational planting
Xiang Labor Transplant 737
and transplanting. For example, they may urge the governments of destina-
tion countries to grant migrants special permission to stay on or to change
jobs. But this most likely happens in exceptional circumstances, such as
when serious labor abuses are exposed, and as such may not lead to systemic
changes. In the long term, it seems that national policies and institutions
remain the central arena for struggle. The strong influence of states across
East Asia, especially in China, and the well-entrenched social arrangements
around labor transplant have rendered state sovereignty unquestionable and
the idea of “postnational citizenship” almost unthinkable.40 But these condi-
tions also create a sense among the migrants that they are entitled to be pro-
tected by their own nations and that states have unlimited moral and practi-
cal responsibilities for assisting citizens in distress. It has been the migrants’
common strategy to pressure the Chinese embassy at their destination or to
appeal to the government back home to address their problems. The strate-
gies have made some progress. Working with nation-states still seems more
productive than working against them.
1 These figures are based on data provided by the Center for International Exchanges,
Ministry of Labor and Social Security, “Jingwai Jieye Tongji Gongzuo Yiben Qing-
kuang yu Fenx i” (“The Basic Facts and Analyses of t he Statistics on Overseas Employ-
ment of 2004”) (unpublished report, Center for International Exchanges, Beijing,
2005); China’s International Contractors’ Association, “Zhongguo Duiwai Laowu
Hezuo Niandu Baogao 2004” (“Annual Report on China’s Internat ional Labor Collabo-
ration”), December 2004; and Ministry of Commerce, “2011 Nian Woguo Duiwai
Laowu Hezuo Yewu Jianmin Tongji” (“Summary Statistics on China’s International
Labor Cooperation 2011”),
_1.html (accessed July 8, 2012).
2 China’s International Contractors’ Association, “Zhongguo Duiwai Laowu Hezuo
Niandu Baogao 2004,” 16–17, 40–48.
3 David Karjanen used the term “just-in-time migration” to refer to the phenomenon
that migrants move “rapidly between different employers and families, providing
quick labor force both for employers and kin.” David Karjanen, “Just-in-Time Migra-
tion,” Anthropology News, December 2006, 64.
4 Zhang Zhen, “Mediating Time: The ‘Rice Bowl of Youth’ in Fin de Siècle Urban
China,” Public Culture 12, no. 1 (2000): 93–113, 93.
5 Michel Foucault, “Governmentality,” in The Foucault Effect: Studies in Governmental-
ity, ed. Graham Burchell, Colin Gordon, and Peter Miller (Chicago: University of Chi-
cago Press, 1991), 87–104.
6 Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities (London: Verso, 1991), 184.
7 James Scott, Seeing like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition
Have Failed (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1998).
738 The South Atlantic Quarterly Fall 2012
8 The employment permit program was not implemented in China until 2008 due to a
disagreement between China’s Ministries of Labor and Commerce.
9 In 2004, 40 percent of all Chinese migrant workers overseas were working in manu-
facturing industries, 26 percent in construction, and 14 percent in agriculture and
the forestry and fishing industries. China’s International Contractors’ Association,
“Zhongguo Duiwai Laowu Hezuo Niandu Baogao 2004,” 10–11.
10 Zhang Gesheng, ed., Guoji Laowu Jingji (International Labor Economy) (Chongqing:
Chongqing University Press, 1999), 93–94.
11 Xing Houyuan, “Shishi Tiaozheng Zhanlue Cuoshi, Cujin Zengzhang Fangshi
Zhuanbian” (“Adjust Strategies in a Timely Manner, Transform Growth Model”), Guoji
Jingji Hezuo (International Economic Cooperation), no. 3 (2005): 8.
12 Ibid., 10. For the construction-investment integration in Indonesia and Thailand, see
Wang Shouqing, “Xiangmu Rongzi BOT de Yingyong” (“How to Apply the BOT
Model of Financing”), Guoji Gongchen yu Laowu (International Project Contracting
and Labor Service), no. 9 (2004): 51–54.
13 Xing, “Adjust Strategies,” 10.
14 Lei Guang, “The Market as Social Convention: Rural Migrants and the Making of
China’s Home Renovation Market,” Critical Asian Studies 37, no. 3 (2005): 391–411.
15 Zha Daojiong, “Chinese Migrant Workers in Japan: Policies, Institutions, and Civil
Society,” in Globalising Chinese Migration: Trends in Europe and Asia, ed. Pal Nyiri and
Igor Saveliev (London: Ashgate, 2002), 129–57, 137.
16 Yang Yunmu, “Dongbeiya Quy u Laowu Hezuo yu Zhengxing Jilinsheng Lao Gong ye
Jidi” (“Labor Cooperation in Northeast Asia and the Rejuvenation of Old Industrial
Base of Jilin”), Guoji Jingji Hezuo (International Economic Cooperation), 2 (2005): 51.
17 Long Guoqiang, Zhongg uo Fuwu Maoyi (China’s Trade in Service) (Beijing: Zhongxin,
1995), 167.
18 Niu Xumou, “Hanguo Shouci Yunxu Haiyun Gongsi Guyong Yanxiusheng” (“Korea
Allows Shipping Companies to Hire Trainees for the First Time”), Guoji Gongchen yu
Laowu (International Project Contracting and Labor Service), no. 1 (2004): 31.
19 Cited in Zha, “Chinese Migrant Workers in Japan,” 141.
20 Xiang Biao, “The Making of Mobile Subjects: How Institution Reform and Outmi-
gration Intersect in Northeast China,” Development 50, no. 4 (2007): 6974.
21 John Torpey, The Invention of the Passpor t: Surveillance, Citizenship, and the State (Cam-
bridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000).
22 The latest list of April 2012 included 66 occupations and 121 work types that were open
to foreign workers. See JITCO,
.pdf (accessed April 3, 2012).
23 Brenda Yeoh, “Bifurcated Labour: The Unequal Incorporation of Transmigrants in
Singapore,” Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie (Journal of Economic and
Social Geography) 97, no. 1 (2006): 26–37.
24 Dong-Hoon Seol, “Global Dimensions in Mapping the Foreign Labor Policies of
Korea: A Comparative and Functional Analysis,” Development and Society 34, no. 1
(2005): 75–124, 100.
25 Ibid., 103 .
26 Ministry of Foreign Technology and Economic Cooperation, “Guanyu Zhengdun he
Guifan dui Xinjiapo Laowu Hezuo Shic hang Zhixu de Jinji Tongzhi” (“Urgent Circu-
Xiang Labor Transplant 739
lar Regarding Rectifying and Standardizing the Market Order of the Labor Coopera-
tion with Singapore”) document code Moftec No. (2001) 268, February 22, 2001. This
circular was issued by the ministry to the Economic and Trade Commission depart-
ments and bureaus in all provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities; it was
also distributed to state-owned enterprises that are directly managed by the central
27 Ministry of Justice, Immigration Bureau, “Guidelines Concerning Entry and Resi-
dence Management of Trainees and Technical Interns,” Tokyo, Ministry of Justice,
1990, 1999, and 2007 versions; and JITCO, “Overview of the System,” www.jitco (accessed April 4, 2012). See also He X iankai, ed.,
Guoji Laowu Hezuo Shiwu (Practice of International Labor Cooperation) (Beijing: Bei-
jing Gongye Daxue Chubanshe, Beijing Industrial University Press, 1994), 108– 9.
28 Pang Lu, “Working Report of the Sixth Executive Committee of Sino-Japan Interna-
tional Training Cooperation Organization,” Beijing, October 16, 2006.
29 KFSB, “Korea’s Guide to the Management of Foreign Industria l Trainees and Appren-
tices,” Seoul, 2001, Ar ticle 5, items 1–3. In Singapore, the recurrent need for the phys-
ical transplant workers back home has given rise to a new business since the 1980s:
repatriation services. There were probably six such companies in Singapore special-
izing in repatriating migrant workers in 2007 who are readily for hire by employers
of migrant workers.
30 Singapore Ministry of Manpower, “2007 Employment Agency Directory,” 2008.
31 Interview with author, Lanzhou, March 15–16, 2005.
32 A president of an association told me that, just to send off two workers, he would enlist
five association members (fellow factory ow ners). At the airport the Japanese team holds
hands to form a human cordon around the women and, step-by-step, move them across
the departure hall, through the throng, and toward the immigration checkpoint.
33 Ministry of Justice, Immigration Bureau, “Guidelines Concerning Entry and Resi-
dence Management of Trainees and Technical Interns,” Tokyo, Ministry of Justice,
December 2007.
34 Ibid.
35 Interview with general manager of Golden Stage, Qingdao, July 11, 2005.
36 Neil Brenner, “Beyond State-Centrism? Space, Territoriality, and Geographical Scale
in Globalization Studies,” Theor y and Society 28, no. 1 (1999): 39–78, 69.
37 James Ferguson, Global Shadows: Africa in the Neoliberal World Order (Durham, NC:
Duke University Press, 2006), 14.
38 Ibid., 38.
39 Jagdish Bhagwat i, “U.S. Trade Policy: The Infat uation with Free Trade Agreements,” in
The D angerous Drift to Preferential Trade Agre ements, ed. Jagdish Bhagwati and Anne O.
Krueger (Washington, DC: AEI Press, 1995), 1–18; and Jagdish Bhagwati, David Green-
away, and Arvind Panagariya, “Trading Preferentially: Theory and Policy,” Economic
Journal 108 (1998): 1128–48.
40 For the notion of “postnational citizenship” as explored in the European context, see
Yasemin Soysal, Limits of Citizenship: Migrants and Postnational Membership in Europe
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994).
... Many East Asian countries are important exporters of migrant workers. For instance, Indonesia exported 700,000 regulated workers in 2007 [28], China sent overseas a total of 800,000 contract workers in 2011 [29], and the cross-border workers from Vietnam to China alone exceeded 200,000 in 2018 [30]. Research based on migrant workers in East Asia shows that with the stricter supervision of the state and the embedding of labor intermediary services between the sending and receiving countries, conditions of individualized labor transplanting has been clearly improved [29,31]. ...
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Xiang Biao examines the increase in outmigration as a result of the emergence of new ‘mobile subjects’. He identifies how institutional reform turned individuals into mobile subjects. He looks at how individuals in northeast China became ‘free labour’, that is, labour disembedded from previous tight encapsulation of work units. The emergence of mobile subjects, however, does not imply a total withdrawal of the state from the social life. Mobile subjects instead result from carefully designed and implemented policies. Development (2007) 50, 69–74. doi:10.1057/palgrave.development.1100430
Public Culture 12.1 (2000) 93-113 Two popular mantras perhaps best capture the fin de siècle frenzy and anxiety of the market economy and consumerist China: xiahai (plunging into the ocean), meaning going into the risky business world, and yu shijie jiegui, which literally means "linking up with the [rail] tracks of the world." The expressions are ubiquitous in both official and popular Chinese discourse. From the popular press to film and television, the media are suffused with tragicomic tales of people who have fared poorly or well in the new enterprises proliferating in China. Linking up with the tracks of the world is a particularly vivid metaphor that spells out China's desire to catch the last train of global modernity, finally overcoming a perceived time-lag between itself and the West. It suggests a sense of running out of time, of urgency, and of great risk taking -- a concept that became almost obsolete during China's insulated socialist era, a time when urban dwellers worked low-paying jobs assigned by a program popularly known as the "iron rice bowl" (tie fanwan). The figure of the iron rice bowl conjures visions of an austere and, at least theoretically, egalitarian lifestyle. More crucially, it evokes a distinct temporality. The image of peasants and workers, old and young men and women, holding their big rice bowls and eating to their hearts' content at communal canteens during the 1950s' Great Leap Forward became an icon of both the bounty and poverty of the socialist experiment. An image of modern folklore, the iron rice bowl exercised enormous representational power, as the most mundane of everyday objects became the pivotal figure of political and social turmoil. With the advent of the market economy, the symbolism of the rice bowl changed radically. People left the stagnant state sectors (voluntarily or involuntarily) to seek monetary and personal fulfillment in the business world -- plunging into the ocean. As a side effect of social restructuring, a new importance in the marketplace and popular culture was assigned to gender, age, and class. While the iron rice bowl is now perceived as rusty and broken, a new figure, the "rice bowl of youth" (qingchunfan), has gained wide currency since the early 1990s. The rice bowl of youth refers to the urban trend in which a range of new, highly paid positions have opened almost exclusively to young women, as bilingual secretaries, public relations girls, and fashion models. Youth and beauty are the foremost, if not the only, prerequisites to obtaining lucrative positions, in which the new "professionals" often function as advertising fixtures with sex appeal. The robust image of vivacious, young female eaters of the rice bowl of youth symbolizes a fresh labor force, a model of social mobility, and the rise of a consumer culture endorsed by current official ideology -- the "democracy of consumption" promoted to prevent social unrest since the suppression of student movements in 1989. The profusion of public discourse that has surrounded this socioeconomic phenomenon reflects a larger cultural anxiety about temporality. In parts of China, the structures of time are being recast by the rapid transition from socialism to a market economy and by the change of focus from production to consumption. In the practical shift from feeding the body to earning a living, different temporalities -- old and new, socialist and capitalist, global and local -- have collided. In a society mobilized to plunge into the ocean or to link with the tracks of the world, fear of drowning and the perils of speed have made anxiety a central feature of public discourse, and it has manifested especially in popular reactions to the rice bowl of youth. More than just a labor issue, the rice bowl phenomenon signals the formation of an urban mass culture and a new sexual politics. It is also the object of an underlying structural anxiety about time, in which feminine youth -- fashioned as the timeless object of male desire -- is simultaneously the trope and implement of modernization and globalization with Chinese characteristics. The rice bowl of youth highlights other temporal paradoxes in a changing social structure as well. Youth is when people are initiated as full members of society...
This article analyzes the actually-emerging market in contemporary China as an institution that is shaped by the exercise of government power and by the social interaction of migrants, officials, and urban consumers. The author argues against understanding the market as an autonomous and de-contextualized institution brought about by the actions of rationally calculative individuals. Drawing on the insights of economic sociology about the socially embedded nature of market, the author pictures the emergence of the market in China in general, and that of the home renovation market in particular, as a messy social process full of distorted information, social bargaining over price, deception and manipulation, state repression, creative learning, and adaptation on the part of various agents in the marketplace. Using the life story of one migrant worker in Beijing's home renovation industry the author critiques the prevailing discourse about the market as an autonomous institution and illustrates the processes of social construction of the market in China.
Following a brief background on Singapore's development from a product of overlapping diasporas to a multiracial nation, this paper gives attention to the dynamics of renewed streams of transnational labour flows in the current decade in the shaping of the global city. It examines the bifurcated nature of Singapore's foreign labour policies and how the transience/permanence divide is predicated on 'skill'. On the one hand, structural (non)incorporation of contract workers as they are inscribed into (and simultaneously proscribed by) the host society results in vulnerability among what are already heavily marginalised and 'flexibilised' workers with little job security and no opportunities for social advancement within the host society. On the other hand, building a nation in the image of globalisation also requires selectively inclusionist projects to entice foreign talent - highly skilled professional workers, technopreneurs, entrepreneurs and investors - in order to keep Singapore in the global race. These differential politics of inclusion and exclusion lock transmigrants into two structurally determined sectors of society and the economy, with, currently, no possibility of interpenetration. Copyright (c) 2006 by the Royal Dutch Geographical Society KNAG.
40 percent of all Chinese migrant workers overseas were working in manufacturing industries, 26 percent in construction, and 14 percent in agriculture and the forestry and fishing industries. China's International Contractors' Association
In 2004, 40 percent of all Chinese migrant workers overseas were working in manufacturing industries, 26 percent in construction, and 14 percent in agriculture and the forestry and fishing industries. China's International Contractors' Association, "Zhongguo Duiwai Laowu Hezuo Niandu Baogao 2004," 10-11.
David Karjanen used the term "just-in-time migration" to refer to the phenomenon that migrants move "rapidly between different employers and families, providing quick labor force both for employers and kin
David Karjanen used the term "just-in-time migration" to refer to the phenomenon that migrants move "rapidly between different employers and families, providing quick labor force both for employers and kin." David Karjanen, "Just-in-Time Migration," Anthropology News, December 2006, 64.
Adjust Strategies in a Timely Manner
  • Xing Houyuan
Xing Houyuan, "Shishi Tiaozheng Zhanlue Cuoshi, Cujin Zengzhang Fangshi Zhuanbian" ("Adjust Strategies in a Timely Manner, Transform Growth Model"), Guoji Jingji Hezuo (International Economic Cooperation), no. 3 (2005): 8.