In China alone, rapid industrialization has given rise to the greatest internal migration in history, from rural areas to urban centers: approximately 400 million people since 1979.
Children are the casualties of this condition. This is especially so in China because of the Family Registration or Hukou System of legal domicile. Each Chinese national is issued a family registration document that, in effect, binds that person to his or her birthplace.
This means that the children of internal migrants cannot accompany their parents to cities because, without a new local Hukou registration, the children cannot attend school in the new jurisdiction.
The domicile issue has given rise to the phenomenon of “left-behind children” whose numbers exceed sixty-two million in China.
Children of the Yi ethnic minority in Sichuan Province are born not far from centers of narcotics production over the border in Myanmar (Burma). Parents who succumb to the trade suffer overdose, hepatitis, and HIV infection. Despite strict anti-narcotics laws in China, this affliction leaves a disproportionate number of Yi children orphaned.