June 8, 2007


No place to call home (The Economist, Jun 7th 2007)

IN A narrow alleyway in Liguanzhuang village, residents idle away a hot afternoon near a stinking rubbish dump, worrying about when the bulldozers will come. To prepare for the Olympic Games next year, Beijing's authorities are removing such eyesores. Old villages surrounded by the expanding city are being demolished. With them goes cheap housing, vital to the city's huge pool of migrant workers. China does not like to admit it has slums. But it does, and it will find it needs them.

In the past two years or so, cities across China have announced plans to “transform” these “villages within cities”. Because of the Olympics in August 2008, Beijing faces a particularly tight deadline. The aim is to “renovate” (ie, usually, flatten) 171 urban villages by the end of this year. Between 2005, when the campaign was launched, and the end of last year, 114 of them were thus transformed. [...]

Breaking the usual taboo, Qiu Baoxing, a deputy minister of construction, admitted in a magazine article in May that many villages within cities had become “Chinese-style slums”.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 8, 2007 2:22 PM
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