Tuesday, April 18, 2006


I saw the video to which Craig Westover refers on "Special Report" last night, and it is quite compelling. However, I wouldn't call it "eminent domain". That would imply Chinese citizens have some kind of property right to their homes. They do not. The Chinese system of hukou restricts travel and binds citizens to their hometowns, so that health care for example can not be had outside their place of residence. These were also common in Ukraine ('propiska') until struck down in its constitutional court in 2001. (That is where I got interested in them.) The internal passports control where one lives and works.

Hujou is a means by which the Chinese can control flight of its poor rural areas to the free enterprise zones. However, given Chinese labor shortages now cropping up and coverage of the effects of a lack of property rights, we may find pressure to stop these internal passports there as well.