November 24, 2005

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Some of the readership may already be familiar with Wang Lei, the pleasantly proportioned girl from Harbin crowned Miss Asia 2005. Those fans from Hong Kong will be pleased to know she has moved to the booming bordertown just north of us. But the granting of permanent residency to her immediately has created a rather large outcry from many migrants from other provinces that have been slogging away in Shenzhen factories without becoming eligible for official residency.

Official residency confers many benefits, including healthcare, social services and education for children. While China is in the process of scrapping these residency laws, they are very much still in place. Given that Shenzhen was just a fishing village 25 years ago, about 90% of the population don't have that official status, which you can apply for only if you've paid RMB80,000 in taxes, or are sponsored by a big company. Or it seems, if you're really hot. They acted immediately after she let it slip that: "Shenzhen is my second hometown and I wish I could become a real Shenzhen citizen."

How did the Shenzhen government justify the quick turnaround on her application? It was because of her "special expertise" in the "cultural industry." Xinhua provides the beefs from migrant workers up in arms about this, but then concludes the article in its signature bland, understated way:

However, some who call the city home supported the decision to make Wang a registered Shenzhener, believing her example will encourage young people that excellence in any industry can bring success.
Especially physical excellence, apparently.

posted by HK Dave on 11.24.05 at 11:38 AM in the China people category.


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"Cultural industry" has to be the euphamism of the week. Now the Beach Boys can sing "Wish they could all be Shenzhen Girls..."

posted by: Simon on 11.24.05 at 03:33 PM [permalink]

Indeed, Simon. Or perhaps instead of Surfin USA, we have "A Serf in th' PRC".

posted by: HK Dave on 11.24.05 at 05:29 PM [permalink]

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