Beijing Starts Gating, Locking Migrant Villages

AP reports on a new strategy to manage the villages of migrants that have cropped up on the outskirts of Beijing and other Chinese cities:

“Sealed management” looks like this: Gates are placed at the street and alley entrances to the villages, which are collections of walled compounds sprinkled with shops and outdoor vendors. The gates are locked between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., except for one main entrance manned by security guards or police, there to check identification papers. Security guards roam the villages by day.

“Closing up the village benefits everyone,” read one banner which was put up when the first, permanent gated village was introduced in April.

But some Chinese question whether problems arising from growing gap between the country’s rich and poor can be fixed with locks and surveillance cameras.

“It’s a ridiculous idea!” said Li Wenhua, who does private welfare work with migrant workers in Beijing. “This is definitely not a good long-term strategy. The government should dig up the in-depth causes of crime and improve basic public services such as education and health care to these people.”

…”Sealed management” was born in the village of Laosanyu during the Beijing Olympics in 2008, when the government was eager to control its migrant population. The village used it again during the sensitive 60th anniversary of Communist China last year. Officials then reported the idea to township officials, who decided to make the practice permanent this year.

July 14, 2010 7:30 PM
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