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Shenzhen Urban Redevelopment Pushes Migrants to the Fringes

On 11 June, Foxconn employees posted an open letter at the company’s facility in Longhua, Shenzhen, to express their discontent with the redevelopment of surrounding urban villages. They alleged that this redevelopment would double or even triple rents, making housing completely unaffordable for them. Residents of Shenzhen’s urban villages—mostly migrant workers—have recently been notified by their landlords that they will have to move out upon the expiry of their current contracts. This comes in the wake of the latest urban upgrade in Shenzhen. In November 2017, the Shenzhen government proposed an action plan for upgrading urban villages from 2018 to 2020. The city currently has 1,044 urban villages, with a total of more than 10 million residents. The proposal calls for the transformation of urban villages into ‘clean, orderly, harmonious, safe, and happy homes’ by July 2020. Migrant workers decide to live in urban villages mostly for the low rent. However, according to a study carried out by Hong Kong University, the average rent has gone up from 550 yuan per person per month in 2015 to 700 yuan in 2017. Rather than evicting residents outright, real estate companies have been enlisted to redevelop urban villages into commercial housing. Companies either renovate and rent out existing buildings at higher prices, or demolish and build new apartment complexes. While it is not the same coercive eviction of migrant workers that took place in Beijing in late 2017, the redevelopment is likely to push many migrants, who in recent years have seen stagnating wages, to the fringes of the city. KL

(Sources: Nanfang Zhoumo; NetEase; The Guardian; Yicai)

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