In neighborhood of Xinjian, where immense urban mole of Beijing ends and field finally begins, wind speaks only. In gusts, among abandoned alleys, it slips a writing-book, an empty can, small testimonies of what was daily life. On a wall half a down still hangs a garland, announcement of a Christmas that will not reach this area. A paired slipper in middle of street, a pink wastepaper basket with drawings of abandoned Cinderella next to a portal, a baby mattress trampled, everything talks about a hasty flight. Of those that only happen in event of war or natural catastrophe. The exodus from Xinjian came by an eviction order from Beijing City Council, which last week gave its inhabitants, almost all immigrants arriving from rural areas of provinces inside China, just three days to pick up ir things and leave, despite Temperatures below freezing and even if y didn't have where or how to go. Get out and knit, while bulldozers were already getting to work.
The trigger was a fire on 18 November in a Xinjian building in which 20 people were killed, including seven children, allegedly all of m immigrants. As a result, Beijing's municipal authorities, led by Communist Party's ambitious local leader, Cai Qi, accelerated ir demolition plan for "illegal constructions." Critics of initiative denounce that, more than security, objective is to drive anor campaign to demolish illegal or dangerous structures in place for months and, with argument of preventing population of Beijing from growing to intolerable limits, It is expelling immigrants considered "low quality".Learn More
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"In less than 72 hours neighborhood was empty." "Where I lived now we only have three families, we are collecting things to leave," laments an immigrant from Hunan province in central China who does not want to give his name. "I lost my job in one of factories in this neighborhood and, as y also had to close overnight, I haven't been paid this month's salary." I have no money for rent anywhere else or for ticket back to my village. "I don't know what we're going to do."
It is a scene that has been repeated in many more neighborhoods in Chinese capital since last week and has affected tens of thousands of people without Beijing hukou, precious internal residence permit that gives access to services such as health or education. To force m to evict, in many cases authorities cut off light and water to whole apples.
The drastic expulsions of rural immigrants in middle of winter have provoked a strong citizen reaction. The criticisms have multiplied on Internet about ill treatment of those who with ir work have contributed to building current Beijing. Middle-class neighbors have moved to slums to offer help to evicted. A hundred intellectuals have written a letter of protest. In a handwritten missive distributed through social networks, famous liberal jurist he Weifang has denounced that demolitions represent "a gigantic satire of intrinsic values" of socialism.
To such an extent protests have been raised, that censors have eliminated on Internet use of expression "low-level people", so far used by authorities to refer to immigrants of low income.
It is estimated that inhabitants of capital are around 21.7 million, which congest roads, health and education services and exhaust available water reserves in an alarming way. More than a third, 8 million — equivalent of Catalonia — are rural immigrants. The city hall has set a roof of 23 million neighbors from 2020. Within se plans, it wants to reduce population of suburbs where less-skilled immigrants live in half a million.
It is estimated that inhabitants of Chinese capital are around 21.7 million, 8 million of m are rural immigrants
"I don't complain at all." "The worst have been those who died in fire," says anor resident of 45 years, originally from Hubei province and who rushes last hours in his home for last seven years. "We have taken what we could to home of some relatives;" The rest, we had to sell it. Now we have to start from scratch and look for anor job. "If not, he'll play back to field, to Hubei."
Cai Qi, leader of CCP in Beijing, has denied that campaign is directed against this population group and insists that this is a measure of citizen security. "Securing security and stability of capital must be our main political task," he said. Although it has also ordered more days of time to complete evictions.
"The government sees low-income people, especially rural immigrants, as a problem, but it doesn't help m solve ir housing problems." It is Chinese Government's attitude towards se low-income people, as if Communist Party did not want people to remember that those who built regime were peasants and workers, says Patrick poon, Amnesty China researcher International.
Even official media have been relative and surprisingly critical: as Chinese daily newspaper published this week, "we need to see harsh reality that non-local, low-income residents, who have immigrated from rural areas to find "Work, seldom receive respect y want to make cities better places to live." "Instead, it is more common for many to see m as expendable, or even undesirable."