[Photo] Construction around Jintaixizhao Station

Beijing is definitely a city that never sleeps. Even from my bedroom I could hear migrant workers constructing buildings all night long. The backbone of China’s rapid development is thanks to their dedication and effort to creating infrastructure in China. This photo was taken at about 8pm on a weekday and the construction site can be seen in the background with night lights flashing out through the entrance of the construction site.

[Modernity] How the new Census in China will affect Migrant Workers

We all know that China is the world’s most populous country but when we ask how many people are actually in China, even government officials in China have a hard time answering. So what does China do? China is currently experiencing a once in a decade census where for two weeks, 6 million census workers are knocking on each and every door asking for household information. But with an estimated 1.3347 billion people and counting, it’s not an easy task. For the census workers, by far the largest challenge will be counting and obtaining the information of the countrie’s migrant workers. 2009 data suggests an estimated 211 million migrant workers in all of China. Compassion for Migrant Children‘s data shows that about one-third of the population in Beijing are migrant workers.
How is this problematic? Before this year, the census was carried out depending on the individual’s hukou, household registration at birth. But starting this year, census is now based on where you now reside. But most migrant workers who come to urban cities like Beijing for higher wages don’t have the official capacity to reside in Beijing lacking proper paper work which is hard to obtain. Without proper documentation, migrant workers and their family members are denied access from public education and basic healthcare in Beijing. One could say that the backbone of rapid urbanization in China are the migrant worker’s hard labor. But with no proper documentation and some families illegally having more than one child, migrant worker’s families face a hard decision as census workers are coming around knocking door to door. If caught with  having more than one child, they will be fined and perhaps even be deported back to their home towns.
Even in my apartment building I felt suspicious that the non-Beijing accented workers are always going to the 14th floor of my building. With ever-rising housing costs, I found out that 20-30 migrant workers were sharing a 2 bedroom apartment. With this current reality of migrant workers it will be interesting to see how the census turns out as the counting closes in a week.

The backbone of China's rapid urbanization, a migrant worker continues labor even late at night.

This construction site began in early July and they have built this much already.

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Go Katayama – Photojournalist in Beijing by Go Katayama is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at

[Development] Compassion for Migrant Children

This weekend is almost about to end but it was a rather fresh weekend for me in the ever cooling city of Beijing. Friday witnessed a rather early sleeping time and this was so that I could get up early at 6am. Saturday I woke up at 6am, got ready and headed out for 五元桥Wuyuan Bridge. Now, if you’re a local here you might be asking me WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU DOING IN WUYUAN QIAO!!? Wuyuan Bridge is all the way out in the 5th inner ring road which is pretty far from  the center of Beijing. It took me almost 2 hours to get out there: taking the metro, bus and by walking. Where was I headed for in Wuyuan Qiao? I made my way finally to a School in the middle of  no where. Starting this weekend, I have decided to make more use of my time here in Beijing than just the usual going out and wasting my time on the weekends recovering from the night before. I joined a NGO called Compassion for Migrant Children(CMC), which the organization stands to help migrant children in China by further expanding their education by means of using volunteers like me.

China has many social problems but as of now the massive migration of workers moving into larger cities, like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, is one of the largest problems China faces. Here are the stats for Beijing according to CMC:

50,000,000 Migrant Workers in Beijing as of now

500,000 Migrant Children in Beijing.

These are overwhelming numbers and is continually growing at a rapid rate. The problem is that these Migrant children aren’t registered in Beijing since they come from other provinces in China so they do not have the proper access to public education in China.  They do go to school but these migrant schools have poorly educated teachers and overall, the children don’t receive the proper care and advise they require. Most of the migrant children face a reality where they watch their parents work day and night and some drop out of school and start working at a very young age. That’s the situation in a nutshell and I promise I will be back with more statistics and info for future posts.

As far as Saturday went, I realized that I haven’t taught English for almost 3 years when I taught for a private English institution in Wuhan, China for the summer. But this experience was quite different. I wasn’t teaching for money and I was just doing it for the pure enjoyment of wanting to make an impact and learn at the same time. The school was a very simple and even though it lacked many resources the joy of the students and the energy they brought to class took over any negativity in the environment or what the children were going through. I only taught for 2 hours, mainly to grade school students but I really enjoyed it. I will be doing this for the next couple weeks until Christmas. For now, this is all the time I have to update on my experience but I will have a photo essay dedicated to the status of Migrant Workers and their family members by the end of the year! Stay tuned.

Creative Commons Licence
Go Katayama – Photojournalist in Beijing by Go Katayama is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at