Moving Out

Residents leaving with belongings through the southwest gate of Xian Village. Authorities timed the eviction to coincide with the Chinese New Year, the traditional time when migrants will return to their family home to spend upwards of a month. The propaganda poster with smiling faces reads, "With one heart and mind take action Together build a civilized Guangzhou City."

Residents prepare to move. Two children guard piles of belongings while the father makes trips up and down the stairs.

Everything must go! Store owners post black and white posters that announce how many days until the owners leave.

On December 25, 2011, posters appeared around the village announcing that all stores must close. The tenants of stores, given only fifteen days notice, must  move, sell, or give away their products and abandon all investments in their property. I met one small restaurant owner who, after renovating six months ago, will leave this week and lose much of the investment. While the villagers who have property rights will receive compensation, albeit limited, migrants receive no compensation for the costs of moving or other losses.

The cumulative effect  of urban village development in Guangzhou is to push migrants out of the inner city entirely.  On January 6th I met a young man from Hunan Province who was preparing to return home for the Chinese New Year Holiday. He said that rent for a single room in Xian Village is 3-400 RMB per month, but that when he returns to Guangzhou after the holiday he will have to pay 5-600 RMB to find housing in one of the surrounding area. The development of Xian Village will effectively raise the housing cost of thousands of migrants by 1-200 RMB per month or force them into less central areas. In this way, the market, rather than hukou (official household registration system), becomes a larger barrier to rural-urban migration. Much of this blog focuses on the conflict between villagers with property rights and the local government which seeks to purchase those rights, but it is important to remember that the migrants receive no entitlements or considerations.

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