- Title: Beijing demolitions spread to outskirts, more migrant families kicked out
- Date: 11th August 2017
- Summary: BEIJING, CHINA (AUGUST 6, 2017) (REUTERS) MIGRANT ENCLAVE BEING GRADUALLY DEMOLISHED PERSON PILING UP ITEMS, WALKING BACK INTO BUILDING SLATED FOR DEMOLITION VARIOUS OF RUBBISH COLLECTOR FROM ANHUI PROVINCE, ZHU XIANGZHI, AND GRANDSON ZHU SHIJIE WALKING INTO BUILDING AND COLLECTING ITEMS TO PACK ZHU'S OTHER GRANDSON PLAYING ON PHONE OUTSIDE ZHU SMOKING (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) RUBBISH COLLECTOR FROM ANHUI PROVINCE, ZHU XIANGZHI, SAYING: "Everyone's looking for their own place. I still haven't found anywhere, I still haven't found a school, I can only move once I've found a school but now not moving is not an option so all I can do is move to a place around the corner." ZHU'S GRANDSONS SITTING ON THE FLOOR OUTSIDE THEIR HOUSE WITH THEIR PHONES (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) STUDENT, ZHU SHIJIE, SAYING: "I've been here for nine years, I do have a bit of an attachment to the place, I think this demolition is really bad." MAN WALKING PAST BUILDINGS SLATED FOR DEMOLITION WITH LADDER / HIGH RISES BEHIND BEIJING, CHINA (AUGUST 8, 2017) (REUTERS) WORKERS ATTACHING HOOKS ONTO CEILING CEILING BEING LIFTED UP BY CRANE CEILING BEING TRANSPORTED ACROSS STREET DRIVER OF CRANE CEILING BEING LOWERED ONTO VEHICLE BEIJING, CHINA (AUGUST 7, 2017) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF WORKERS DEMOLISHING ROOF WITH PICK AXES RUBBLE FALLING TO FLOOR BEIJING, CHINA (AUGUST 7, 2017) (REUTERS) INDEPENDENT POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, ZHANG LIFAN, BEING INTERVIEWED (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) INDEPENDENT POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, ZHANG LIFAN, SAYING: "To an extent what they (the government) are doing is perhaps reasonable. Because Beijing has now become this megapolis where the facilities and resources of the whole city are completely overburdened. Of course if there's a need to reduce the population they will of course follow the mainstream traditional thinking which will always start with those who don't have a Beijing residence permit. So even though there is a degree of reasonability in what they are doing, there's also a certain amount of regional prejudice."
- 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: LVA0016TPMYBP
- 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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