A village near the city of Beijing has announced a levy of 2,000 yuan ($295) per month on every migrant worker living there, according to the Global Times. The goal is to encourage migrant workers to leave, and hit the local authority’s target of zero migrant population in the village.
According to a notice drafted and signed by the Qiuxian village committee in southern Beijing’s Daxing district, non-local residents are required to pay the 2,000-yuan levy monthly, starting from August 1. Migrants who run businesses in the village, such as stores and restaurants, will have to pay a fee of 1,000 yuan ($147) per person each month, and an extra 5,000 yuan ($738) annually for each business. The fees include bills for sanitation, water, electricity, and public security services. Anyone who fails to comply will be deprived of these services and forced out of the village.
The announcement was widely circulated on Chinese social media and caused a huge controversy, with many questioning the legitimacy of the move and accusing the village of discriminating against migrant workers. “How soon will Beijing declare independence? Do I need a visa to enter the capital of my country?,” one commenter wrote (in Chinese). In response, the Daxing district government confirmed (in Chinese) the decision on its Sina Weibo account on July 15, blaming the dirty conditions of the village on migrant workers who have flooded into the village in recent years. “The decision was made after a string of recent disputes between migrants and locals that were not appropriately solved by the police and village officials,” the explanation reads.
Once dependent on a large migrant population for construction and a huge variety of services, Beijing has become increasingly hostile to non-locals in the past few years. In 2016, the capital tore down 322 million square feet of small shops, restaurants, and fruit stands deemed “illegal construction.” That same year, Beijing amended its residency rules by introducing a points-based system to evaluate migrants who want to become permanent residents in the city. Last week, Caixin reported that many schools for migrant children in Beijing’s Changping district were ordered to move as the municipality slated the illegal structures for demolition. Online, an internet user enraged by Beijing’s rising animosity toward migrant workers wrote (in Chinese), “It just tosses these people away after exploiting them. I suggest that all non-locals in Beijing leave the city voluntarily. Let’s see what it will look like.”
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