Beijing’s Bomb Shelter Hoteliers Protest Against Closure

The Guardian reports on a recent protest by owners of improvised hostels in air raid shelters in Beijing which provide temporary housing for migrant workers, under-employed college graduates, and others:

Thousands of air-raid basements have been turned into dosshouses for migrant workers and the so-called “ant tribe” of unemployed graduates. Municipal authorities say the clearout is for health and safety, but critics say it may be designed to move a poor inner-city population, which has previously been forced to relocate temporarily during events such as the Olympics.

Plans for a permanent shift have upset entrepreneurs who have rented out the spaces for decades. Hundreds of thickly-dressed hostel owners braved freezing winds to rally in Chaoyang Park and hand out leaflets, which criticised the authorities for the ruining their livelihoods and failing to pay adequate compensation.

“This is shocking and incomprehensible to everyone in our business,” said the petition in the name of Civil Air Defence Shelter Industry Workers. “It’s a mistake to tell everyone to leave at such short notice. We have invested a great deal of money and have strictly followed regulations.”

See also a report from Al Jazeera:

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