Chinese evictions provoke public outrage but little sympathy from officials


BEIJING – In his nationwide address to start the year 2017, Chinese President Xi Jinping said he was "seriously concerned" about people living in difficult conditions in his country, those who struggle to find work, housing, health care and education for their children. Xi pledged that "incessantly solving these problems remains an unavoidable responsibility for the party and the government."

But as the year draws to a close, tens of thousands of migrant workers are driven out of their homes in the freezing cold and the cutting winds of Beijing's winter, with little or no warning. It is a mbadive eviction caused by a fire in a crowded and insecure building on November 18 that killed 19 people, but is part of a broader plan to modernize, embellish and gentrify the Chinese capital as a showcase for the Communist Party.

For many residents of Beijing, it is considered insensitive and cruel. It has also unleashed a strange sympathy of the middle clbad towards the poorer sectors of society that form the backbone of China's economy, but they suffer the blunt end of the communist regime.

Hundreds of volunteers have gathered to help migrant workers with offers of temporary accommodation or badistance to move their belongings. Others have brought soup or food to people evicted, or have donated warm clothes. Many more have turned to the Internet to declare their anger, sharing videos and photos of migrants expelled from their homes. And more than 100 academics, lawyers and artists signed an open letter protesting the evictions.

Even the state-controlled Chinese media fought to justify the evictions, admitting that they were carried out too hastily and local authorities sometimes behaved in a "simplistic and brutal" manner.

But the response of the authorities has been typically defensive. Posts on social networks have been removed and a link has been removed that allows people to volunteer their services. The police closed a reception center to provide temporary accommodation for the evicted. In China ruled by communists, and especially under Xi, civil society is suspect, and any attempt to protect the poor against abuse by the state is considered dangerously subversive.

Wang Minglei, a 43-year-old interior decorator who has lived and worked in Beijing for almost 15 years, said he felt betrayed after receiving a 10-day notice to leave his home.

"When they needed people to work and build the city, they welcomed us," he said. "Now the construction is almost finished, and they want us to leave."

Less than a quarter of a mile away, Su Kezhu, 38, packed his belongings in boxes and bags, while his wife, Yang Juan, cooked a final meal in the kitchen of her small room in a row of one-story houses. His arrived in Beijing to work as warehouse manager seven years ago, and the couple left their only child with their parents in Shandong province. But now he feels he has no choice but to admit defeat and go home, because he can not find any affordable place to live.

"I do not want to leave Beijing," he said. "In fact, 90 percent of the people who are expelled do not want to leave, but there is no place for us."

Migrant workers who perform construction work and services are often poorly paid and lack any appearance of workers' rights. Without urban residency permits, they have to leave their children in the villages to be raised by their grandparents, or send them to poorly equipped and overcrowded schools in the cities, which are sometimes closed by the authorities.

The open letter signed by intellectuals accused the authorities of not reflecting on the errors that caused the deadly fire or make any effort to comfort the victims. They wrote that officials used the incident as an excuse to carry out the "lightning-fast" evictions, threatening hundreds of thousands of homeless and destitute people.

"We believe that this is a vicious event that is illegal and unconstitutional and seriously abuses human rights," they wrote.

A migrant worker carries his belongings after being evicted from his home in the Daxing district of Beijing on Saturday. (Luna Lin / The Washington Post)

The common citizens were no less angry.

"This is pretty good, let them go back to their home cities and contribute there," one user observed sarcastically on Weibo, the equivalent of China Twitter. "Let people in the capital take care of their own children, deliver packages, repair toilets, deliver food to take away."

Others targeted the government and state media for allegedly referring to migrant workers as a "low-status population."

"The lower clbad population" in each big city deserves respect, if there are no messengers, there are no waiters, babysitters and real estate agents, street vendors who despise, their life would be less convenient, "said one, in a comment deleted by the censors but preserved on the website

"What is lower clbad is not the population, it is the way of thinking of the government," wrote another person in a deleted commentary. 19659003] A link created by Warm Beijing, a private group with the aim of encouraging volunteers to come and help, was disconnected The page now shows a message that "may contain sensitive words and has been banned!" [19659003] Meanwhile, Tongzhou Home, a reception center for migrant workers, was visited by the police after offering the evictees the possibility of storing luggage or staying the night and later it was closed.

"I saw that there were so many people who desperately needed help, and I just wanted to do something for them, "founder Yang Changhe told the South China Morning Post, adding that the police had told him that people were not allowed to enter because he did not have a license as a guesthouse. u hotel.

The state media, while arguing that "transient workers deserve respect," argued that the evictions were a well-intentioned campaign that had gone awry or been misinterpreted.

But some local authorities seemed to reconsider after the public outcry, with an administration at the municipality level arresting the evictions and allowing people to stay at least until the end of the year, and another that offers temporary accommodation and transportation tickets.

Meanwhile, President Xi announced on Monday that China should continue to improve the country's baths as part of its "revolution bath" aimed at developing domestic tourism and improving the quality of life.

Liu Yang contributed to this report.

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