Postings Attempt to Unite Migrants Against Eviction

Translation: Each worker from every corner of the land! Hello! I am a student of law and I have lived in Xian Village for more than 10 years and witnessed Xian’s difficulties and hardships. Today all around the village are announcements conspicuously posted by the Xian Village Development Company, that require us to leave the village within 15 days, and require us to get entry-exit papers, or else not be able to enter the area. At this point there are these issues: I want to instill in everyone some knowledge of the law so that each person can receive the protection of the law. Xian Village now is merely a development corporation. No individual or company has the right to enter the area. Without a card inspection, the enforcement of the law will prevent or forbid any person from entering or passing through. According to the Constitution: Except for unexpected circumstances and crime scenes, in which the police must temporarily seal off an area, the army is forbidden from not allowing travel. In other places one can freely enter and pass though, every Chinese citizen growing up in the People’s Republic of China’s territory can freely stride, shuttling back and forth into every place within our domain, setting foot everywhere in our Divine Land. Now even our residence permits are canceled by force.即可办, 可不办, Volluntarily handle. . Our salaries are low, our housing is not ensured, there is now low-cost housing, we can only choose Xian Village, this 平宜 place to rent housing and sustain our lives. Migrant workers need a place to live, we need to subsist, we all have a right to choose our own lifestyle and living environment. The Xian Village Development Company’s method is a serious violation of the law! If they continue to use remodeling urban villages a pretext for affecting the lives of us migrant workers, we must all unite! We must use the law to arm ourselves! If you have a problem, pick up the phone and dial the police at 110 for help! “In our great country, all men are brothers.” I wish every migrant worker good health and a happy new year!

Loudspeaker announcement of evictions from Xian Village, Mandarin, Recorded January 12, 2012 3:34 PM

In January posters appeared around Xian Village attempting to rally migrants to oppose evictions. The author claims to be a migrant worker (外来打工者) and appropriates freedoms of movement granted in the Chinese Constitution to claim that the restrictions of the Xian Village Development Company are illegal.

As mentioned in my earlier posts, in January 2012, messages appeared around the village announcing the eviction of all migrants in Xian Village and the requirement that all those wishing to enter and exit would need a special entry-exit card. After most migrants left the village for the Chinese New Year, the regulations went into force. By February guards  restricted movement into the village to only permanent villagers.

In some ways it is surprising that villagers and migrants would come together to oppose evictions considering their distinct interests. While villagers have land rights and a share in the village’s collective profits, migrants, no matter the duration of their residency, can gain no such rights. Moreover, significant social divides exist between migrants and their villager landlords.  A sign outside the Elderly Activity Center forbids migrants from entry, as do other public spaces such as ancestral halls and schools. This poster below could represent the attempt of a migrant to rally others in his or her community. It could represent the attempt of a villager to rally the support of migrants to their cause. In either case, it shows a recognition that the two groups share a common interest.

The author broaches the important issue of a lack of low-income housing in China’s metropolises. While in the past, China’s resident permit system posed the largest barrier to movement into cities, in many places the market now prices out migrant residents. Urban villages make up some of the last enclaves of low income housing for migrants in central Guangzhou.  The development of one urban village can have a dramatic effect on nearby rents. A landlord in the neighboring Shipai Village 石牌村 told me that the announcement of evictions in Xian caused rents in his village to rise by 25%. Development of urban villages continues all around Guangzhou (Guangzhou’s “Three Old” Transformations), “Six Large Urban Village Transformations”).

By March 2012 it appears that few if any migrants remain in Xian Village. Now, the only remaining obstacles to development are the villagers who refuse to sign away their land rights. Without migrant tenants paying rents, it is unclear how long these villagers will hold out.

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