Mobility in China from 1949 to the present day

Jean-Philippe Béja | Chercheur
13 November 2019

For the communist regime that established itself in Beijing in 1949, mobility was synonymous with disorder. Once in power, the Party divided the population into classes to better control it: the members of the “exploiting classes” were subject to many restrictions, while the “red” classes were tasked with monitoring them. But by 1958, State control was widespread and travel was limited for all. Yet, mobility gradually became part of Chinese people’s daily lives: corporate executives would fly to their hometown on weekends; the middle classes would drive to their country homes; private cars replaced bicycles in the villages. However, far from signalling the end of State control, this apparent liberation came with unparalleled surveillance. Jean-Philippe Beja revisits the history of 70 years of emancipation under control.


These videoconferences, given by experienced or up-and-coming researchers in the field of mobility, address a wide range of basic issues, from the mobility turn to mobile methods and the relocation of production. Over time, they’re intended to provide a visual encyclopedia of mobility.