Beijing kicks out migrant workers

On November 18, a fire broke out in outer Beijing, killing 19 people, most of whom were migrant workers staying in small housing quarters. Since then, the Beijing authorities launched a massive eviction of tens of thousands of migrant workers, claiming unsafe violations of their residences as the reason. As a result, police have simply just showed up at people’s doors and ordered them to leave within days or even hours! Many of these people were forced to leave hastily without guaranteed accommodation and in some cases, leave for their hometowns. It’s obvious the authorities have used the fire as a convenient excuse to evict these outsiders, something which some Chinese have not failed to note.

It’s a very troubling act, but it’s in line with the crackdowns the government has launched on society. Lawyers, NGOs, journalists, Christians and even billionaires have felt the brunt of Xi Jinping and his regime, and migrant workers in the capital are now the latest.
It’s also a vivid sign of the sheer power and cold-heartedness of the Communist Party and Xi. It is good to see a number of Chinese speaking up and doing things like setting up shelters. But even then, the government has already censored some of these efforts.

These migrant workers are Chinese citizens, who come from other provinces and do a lot of the manual and low-income jobs that locals won’t do and which keep society running. Basically, most deliverymen, construction workers, waitresses, repairmen and service staff in Beijing are migrant workers. When I was in Beijing, the people who cut my hair, the real estate agents, plumbers and waitresses I met were all migrant workers. Some also do white-collar and office jobs, such as a lot of my colleagues, though their living conditions are better.

The authorities have announced plans to reduce the number of people in Beijing, whose population as of a few years was at least 23 million. But the way they’ve done it is wrong. Instead of say, trying to boost development or provide more resources and funds to neighbouring cities and provinces, the government has resorted to heavyhanded efforts and outright force to force the most vulnerable people out. Kicking migrant workers out, after having benefited from their cheap labour, is a callous and flawed way of population control, doubly so given these are their own fellow Chinese. Since I left Beijing a couple of years ago, the government has closed down major wholesale clothing markets, shut down small stores on entire streets and torn down houses in hutong lanes.

This government cares little for the rights of its citizens and will continue to arbitrarily use its power to control its people whenever and however it wants. But as long as people in China accept this and don’t try to face up to the party, things will never change.

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5 thoughts on “Beijing kicks out migrant workers

  1. Maybe something will finally click when those officials realise there’s no one to deliver their parcels or their take away meals, no cleaning lady to do the chores at home, no waitresses at the restaurants, no nannies for their children, no one sweeping the streets, no handymen to build or repair things in their homes… I never saw a Beijinger (or a Shanghaier) doing those jobs.

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    1. Yes, it would be great if those officials were to come to their senses when they realize Beijing can’t function properly without migrant workers. Delivery companies must be heavily affected since they depend on these overworked, underpaid migrants. I don’t think I ever got my hair cut or got served in a restaurant by a Beijinger when I was there.

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  2. In a sense I disagree with you on one issue, that being about change. I believe that many more things are going to change for the people of China and for the world because the Dictator Xi and his coneys are just starting his reign of terror on the people of China, and the world. May God have mercy on the people of China because there is no mercy in the Communist Party nor in the Dictator for life, Xi Jinping. I am going to ‘press’ this story over onto my WordPress blog for you.

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    1. I meant things will never change for the better for China’s people, while I think you mean things will change for the worst. In that sense, I think we both kind of agree.

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