After heat and humidity welcomed us to Guangzhou, our warm reception was continued by our hosts. Guangzhou, also known historically as Canton or Kwangchow, the capital of Guangdong province is a hub for China's manufacturing industries and a home for twenty three universities. Students, young migrant workers, and business people come here from different parts of the country.
The small glimpses we have of the scale of people's movement within China continue to astonish us. The plane we took from Shanghai to Guangzhou was easily twice the size of the plane we took from London. On the flight from London we had crowded into the back of the plane on row 50. On this flight row 40, where we sat, was roughly in the middle of this Boeing 777 carrying over 400 people to Guangzhou. Such domestic flights depart almost every hour. These 'migrant' people are the testimony of the multi-versality of this country, its overlapping spaces, cultures, languages and peoples.
And yet, there is a strong sense of 'home' in the city too. A brief walk around the hotel immediately connects us to the everyday life of the city… men and women on the street selling fish, clothes, live chickens, and house tools, while a carnival of smells and colours penetrates the torrid air of the early afternoon. People, young and old, gather in streets alongside the banks of the Pearl River, immersed in their dance and fitness lessons. China's public culture seems to be going strong. Such scenes contrast with the sense of alienation, estrangement, and dislocation that are typically associated with migration. This city is an economic centre that welcomes the possibilities of its own becoming.
- The Oecumene Team, 9 June 2013