The government builds walls, evicts migrants, life in village becomes more difficult

On December 25, 2011, a new set of official announcements appeared on walls all around Xian Village. The announcement proclaimed that all migrants living within Xian Village would have to leave Xian Village by January 9, 2012- within 15 days. The announcement also proclaimed that all streetside commerce would forbidden. At the same time, construction crews surrounded the village and began building ten foot high walls surrounding the entire village and limiting traffic in and out to a handful of tightly monitored gates. Other announcements proclaimed that after January 9th, only those with an entry and exit card, granted by the Xian Village Development Company, could enter the village.

In early January I visited Xian Village and spoke with migrants and villagers about the upcoming eviction and related regulations. Three wheeled carts crowded the village streets carrying away people’s belongings. A migrant from Hunan province told me that the new regulations are taking place now, as the Chinese New Year approaches, because migrants are already preparing to leave to return to their home towns for the New Year Festival. He said he would return to Guangzhou after the festival, but that he would have to move to a place less centrally located. He says rents for a single room in Xian Village are 300-400 RMB per month and outside the village will be 500-600 RMB per month.

Next I met a 60+ year old villager who grabbed my arm and brought me to one of the new walls surrounding the villagers. As a group of policemen stood nearby, she screamed, using me as an excuse to vent to the police),  and described the ways in which the village government is attempting to coerce those living in Xian Village to leave. She said the walls were meant to monitor traffic into the village and to make life difficult for residents, many of whom would have to walk twenty minutes out of their way to exit and enter through the new gates. She says that the walls turn the village into a fire-trap, exacerbated by demolition debris and trash scattered in the village. The eviction of migrants is meant to eliminate the rental income of landlord villagers and thereby entice them to sign agreements ceding their land. The removal of food and grocery vendors will starve many of the remaining villagers, some of whom are too old and week to walk outside of the village to buy goods.

 

Vacated buildings rise within Xian Villages new wall. Propaganda posters read, "fair and equal, conducted according to the law, reasonable compensation, untied subsidy policy (poor translation), the earlier villagers sign away their land, the greater the benefit."

 

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