Creating and Managing an International Community: Immigration, Integration, and Governance in a Mainland Chinese City

  • Angela Lehmann


The increasing numbers of foreigners coming to live and work in Chinese cities raise important questions about how ethnic diversity can best be managed and utilized within the existing community governance structure in China. An ethnographic study was undertaken in a rapidly diversifying neighborhood in a second-tier Chinese city. Interviews, focus groups, questionnaires, and document analysis supplemented in-depth participant observation in the community over a period of two years. The lowest level of government in urban China, the Residents’ Committee (RC), was used as a platform for developing a community-based project which aimed to promote self-governance and integration of foreign migrants. The project had limited success, however, due to the experience of contradictory and confusing understandings of the project motivations by members of the migrant community. This chapter outlines the role of the RC and the challenges posed by the presence of foreigners in the community. Responses to these challenges included the appointment of a foreign representative to the community; the employment of a social work organization to lead a project to foreigner integration; and the use of culture-learning as a tool to increase both legitimacy and civility. The chapter describes the responses to the project by foreigners in the community which highlight the complex relationship between the Chinese state, international migration, and social engineering.


Community Governance Integration Urban China Migration 


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Angela Lehmann
    • 1
  1. 1.University of XiamenXiamenChina

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