According to Julie

Putting my long distance relationship into perspective

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“The Chinese government developed perhaps the strictest set of controls over the movement of people of any state in the modern world in 1958. The basis of control was the hukou, or household registration system. (…) People were supposed to reside and work only where they had their hukou. Transfer of hukou was normally granted only in certain well-defined circumstances, which included assignment to a job in another area, marriage across administrative boundaries and moves to join family members. The administration of the hukou stystem was complex and involved different government offices. A transfer needed the permission of the authorities in the area where the hukou had been held and the authorities in the area to which it was being transferred. (…) Matches between people with different types of hukou or inhabitants of different towns or cities caused some tragic family separations. Marriage did not confer the right for one spouse to acquire the hukou of the other, and it appears that the authorities were determined that this would not become a way to move up the spatial hierarchy. There was no automatic right to be joined by a spouse when assigned a new job in some far-off place., and even when this right was granted to individuals, they sometimes waited years for the necessary hukou and job transfers to be arranged. 11.4 million couples in stable marriages were geographically separated at the time of the 1982 Census.”

– Delia Davin  (1999), Internal Migration in Contemporary China, published by Macmillan Press Ltd., pages 4-18

 

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