Yanyu Liu


As Interviewed by Ricky Zhou, March 17, 2013
"People that didnít live in rural areas thought those who did were very poor."
Yanyu Liu

Introductory Profile: About Yanyu Liu

My interviewee is Yanyu Liu, my mother. She was a witness to the discrimination against rural migrants by urban dwellers in big cities in China. During the time when she was young, the Chinese government enforced a residence restriction system called hukou, which caused many inequalities in social status between permanent urban residents and rural residents. The hukou was generally a household registration/restriction system, and it locked oneís residence status and was very difficult to change. One individualís hukou status was typically inherited from his/her parents and thus was predetermined for most kids.

The hukou system classified a personís residence as urban or rural, and whether he/she was associated with agriculture or not. People who were classified under the non-agricultural category had much better welfare benefit supplied by the government. As a result, people who lived in urban regions were often considered superior to those in rural regions. This caused many inequalities such as huge difference in education resources between rural areas and the cities.

My mom was born in a small town, a remote rural area located in the province of Heilongjiang. She is now 40 years-old. She is short, right-handed, and has darkish-brown eyes and black hair. She is a very kind and gentle person who cares a lot for others. My Mom went to Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics in 1991 and graduated there in 1995. After that, she became an engineer in Beijing and luckily got the hukou of Beijing sponsored by the company that hired her.

After interviewing my mom, I began to learn about the difficulties and hardships people like my mother had to endure if they lived in the rural regions of China. I learned to appreciate the fact that I could go anywhere freely without any difficulties. Over the past few decades, the Hukouís grip in China has been loosened, though not fully abolished. The influence of the hukou is still visible everywhere. People who live in urban areas still have better education than those who live in the countryside.