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Remittances, donations, and investments in Taishan, China, since 1978 : a transnational development pattern Zhang, Feng

Abstract

One of the most prominent points of out-migration from China historically, since 1978 Taishan has again experienced substantial out-migration. My research seeks to describe the effects of monetary inputs from Chinese transnationals--in the form of remittances, donations, and investments--on social and economic transformation in Taishan. To date, the distinct and joint effects of these on ongoing socio-economic developments in China have not been systematically examined. My research demonstrates that transnational remittances, donations, and to a lesser degree investments, have intensive and permanent influences on households, communities and regions. A large proportion of the residents of Taishan receive remittances via transnational ties. Remittances, a primary income source for many recipients, contribute adversely to the stratification of incomes in the community and have a strong influence on the lifestyles and economic strategies of recipients. Large volumes of transnational donations have effectively modernized schools, hospitals, libraries, village planning, transportation and other sectors in local regions. Local governments therefore depend heavily upon such support for the public sector. Meanwhile, transnational investments in industries, few at first but many in recent years, have gradually changed the economic structure of Taishan, stimulating industrialization and increasing demographic diversity by attracting migrant workers from other places. The joint effects--the synergy--of transnational remittances, donations, and investments on socio-economic transformation in Taishan form a "transnational development pattern" that is distinct from the industrialization-orientated development course observable in other parts of the Pearl River delta and other coastal regions of China. Underlying the synergy is a deeply embedded mentality among locals who desire to emigrate themselves and who expect and depend upon external financial support from family members who have already emigrated. This transnational development pattern has created dilemmas specific to Taishan, and deserves global comparison with other regions.

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