China: Around The Nation

Guangdong cities empty during Lunar New Year as Chinese migrant workers head home for the holiday

Dongguan ranked top ‘ghost city’ as more than 70 per cent of residents leave town

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 February, 2017, 2:34pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 02 February, 2017, 4:56pm

Guangdong province experienced a mass exodus of its residents during Lunar Near Year, most of whom were migrant workers, with four of its cities ranking as China’s top “ghost cities” during the holiday.

One of Guangdong’s major industrial cities, Dongguan, ranked first in China’s empty cities during Lunar New Year, as close to 70 per cent of its population left town during the holiday, according to the Qihoo 360 Big Data Centre, one of China’s leading internet data centres.

Three other cities in the same province – Foshan, Guangzhou and Shenzhen – took the next three places on the list, all with more than 60 per cent of their residents away during Lunar New Year. Shanghai and Beijing each lost more than half of their population during the period.

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Local newspaper Southern Daily reported Qihoo 360, a mainland software giant, compiled its “Ghost City Index” by tracking the locations of its users during the Lunar New Year travel rush.

Guangdong province is home to many manufacturing-heavy cities such as Dongguan and Foshan, which attract many migrant workers. These cities routinely experience major losses of population during major holidays, when residents either return to their home towns or go on trips.

According to state official data, Dongguan has a population of more than 8 million but less than 2 million of them are native, which means migrant workers account for over 75 per cent of the total population.

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The same data set showed that Jiangxi and Hunan are the two provinces that supply the most migrant workers, each with more than 7 per cent of their populations seeking work in other provinces.

Baidu Data Centre also documented the traffic trends in China during the holiday period. Its data showed that among those who left Dongguan during the holiday, 36 per cent headed to Hong Kong, but they did not indicate whether the trips were for tourism or other purposes.