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Village in Beijing Charges Migrant Workers

In July, the rural village of Qiuxian in Beijing’s Daxing district announced plans to start charging migrant residents 2,000 yuan (about 295 USD) per month. The document released by the village leadership stated that the fees collected would be used to pay for public sanitation, tap water, public security, and electricity, but also made it clear that the levy would ‘fulfil the target of having zero migrants in our village’. Those who did not pay would be denied services and evicted. As would become evident with the mass eviction of migrant workers from Beijing later in the year, the village’s decision is best understood in the context of the government’s policy to place further restrictions on the migrant population in the Chinese capital. In April, the authorities indicated their intention to cap the city’s population—now at twentytwo million—at twenty-three million ‘longterm residents’ by 2020. In recent years, the capital has also started moving its secondary bureaucracies and university campuses to cities in neighbouring Hebei province. Moreover, in 2016 alone, thirty million square metres of small shops, restaurants, and fruit stands considered to be ‘illegal constructions’ were dismantled, with plans to dismantle another forty million square metres in 2017. Schools for migrant children on the outskirts of Beijing have been forced to close, and car-sharing services have been restricted to local drivers, thus excluding migrants. While China is pursuing migrants’ integration and urbanisation as an engine for economic growth in the transition away from low-end manufacturing, rural migrants are encouraged to stay away from mega cities like Beijing and Shanghai, and instead settle in second-tier and provincial cities. KL

(Sources: Caixin Global 1; Caixin Global 2; Caixin (Chinese); Financial Times; South China Morning Post)

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