- Title: Beijing demolitions spread to outskirts, more migrant families kicked out
- Date: 11th August 2017
- Summary: BEIJING, CHINA (AUGUST 8, 2017) (REUTERS) SEALED UP WALL WHERE SHANXI NOODLE SHOP USED TO BE SIGN IN WINDOW OF REFURBISHED BUILDING FRONT READING (Chinese): "SUPERMARKET" ENTRANCE TO LOTTERY TICKET SHOP ALONG REFURBISHED BUILDING FRONT BEIJING, CHINA (AUGUST 7, 2017) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) INDEPENDENT POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, ZHANG LIFAN, SAYING: "Actually a lot of these people have already put down roots in this city and it's not really possible for them to return to the countryside. But if this round of cleanout movements rips up their roots then I think, from a political point of view, this way of trying to keep society stable actually has no benefits. Once you cut off someone's means of livelihood, what will they do? Will they possibly try and get revenge on you?" BEIJING, CHINA (AUGUST 6, 2017) (REUTERS) RUBBISH COLLECTOR, WANG JUN, COLLECTING ITEMS FROM BUILDINGS SLATED FOR DEMOLITION (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) RUBBISH COLLECTOR FROM HENAN PROVINCE, WANG JUN, SAYING: "Itâ€™s just me here by myself, working all year collecting rubbish, taking rubbish and bringing it back home. I'm also collecting the rubbish for my landlord and cleaning it. I've done them all, the toughest jobs. Actually, people who have money have so much money, while the people who are poor are so poor. If you have money you go anywhere you want. If you don't, every inch you move is a struggle." VARIOUS OF WANG WALKING WITH SACK OF ITEMS ON BACK BEIJING, CHINA (AUGUST 6, 2017) (REUTERS) DEMOLISHED SITE BEIJING, CHINA (AUGUST 8, 2017) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF CHILDREN'S TOYS LEFT BEHIND AMONGST RUBBLE
- Embargoed: 25th August 2017 03:12
- Keywords: demolitions migrants China migrants migrant enclave forced demolitions
- Location: BEIJING, CHINA
- City: BEIJING, CHINA
- Country: China
- Topics: Society/Social Issues
- Reuters ID: LVA0036TPMYBP
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: In a nondescript suburb far from downtown Beijing, residents gather together the last of their belongings before the diggers move in.
This time last year, Dongsanqi was a village made up of narrow lanes and rudimentary brick homes, but the migrant enclave is now gradually becoming a field of rubble, brought down by a government's city-wide drive to dismantle illegal construction and unsafe dwellings.
Zhu Xiangzhi, a resident of Dongsanqi who has lived in Beijing for 20 years and pays around 500 yuan ($75) a month in rent, said he still hadn't found a new place to go nor a school for his grandson. His grandson, Zhu Shijie, said he'd grown attached to the place and didn't want to leave.
Two days later, their home was gone.
The municipal government's campaign to rejuvenate Beijing has hit its huge migrant population - which peaked at 8.2 million in 2015 - the hardest.
China's rapid economic development in recent years has spurred a massive migration of labourers from rural provinces to the country's biggest cities, with such workers numbering 280 million nationwide. Many take on low-wage jobs in the manufacturing, construction and service sectors.
Migrant neighbourhoods sprang up organically over the years as worker numbers grew, with many living in aging inner city housing. Others find shelter in overcrowded dormitories, building basements and even sewers.
"Beijing has now become this megapolis where the facilities and resources of the whole city are completely overburdened," said political commentator, Zhang Lifan. "Even though there is a degree of reasonability in what they are doing, there's also a certain amount of regional prejudice."
Change is not just out in the suburbs, though. Over the past year, excavators and men with spades have descended on the ancient hutong alleyways of downtown Beijing.
It's a familiar sight - what was once a Shanxi noodle shop run by migrants and illegally blazoned with colourful signage has now been bricked up, architecturally altered to more closely resemble what the building would once have looked like.
"Actually a lot of these people have already put down roots in this city and it's not really possible for them to return to the countryside," said political commentator, Zhang Lifan.
"But if this round of cleanout movements rips up their roots then I think, from a political point of view, this way of trying to keep society stable actually has no benefits. Once you cut off someone's means of livelihood, what will they do? Will they possibly try and get revenge on you?"
Between 2017 and 2020, the Beijing government plans to revamp 100 neighbourhoods. This year alone, it aims to eliminate 40 million square metres of illegal structures, or almost 5,000 soccer pitches.
"If you have money, you go anywhere you want. If you don't, every inch you move is a struggle," said another resident of Dongsanqi, Wang Jun, who has collected rubbish for a living in Beijing for the past nine years since migrating from Henan province.
The city government did not immediately respond to faxed questions seeking comment on measures in place to help those rendered homeless or whether migrants were a target in Beijing's redevelopment.
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