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Evicting the Underclass

Friedman, Eli

Publisher:  Jacobin
Date Written:  06/12/2017
Year Published:  2017  
Resource Type:  Article

A Chinese government campaign to expel migrant workers from Beijing is designed to reap greater profits from urban land and reserve the city for elites.



Since the campaign began, labor-intensive businesses have been scrambling to keep their workers in Beijing, with e-commerce giants Alibaba and JD.com making housing arrangements for their displaced couriers. Residents have complained that the street hawkers they depend on have disappeared, and workers who keep Beijing's airport running have also faced eviction. Migrant laborers may be a despised underclass, but the city cannot function without them. These contradictory pressures will push the state into schizophrenic behavior, and the nation's most vulnerable will pay for this instability.


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