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Population Limits Push Residents Out of Beijing and Shanghai

In top-tier Chinese cities like Shanghai and Beijing, new population caps have spurred the relocation of residents, many of them low-income, to smaller cities and the outskirts.
March 31, 2018, 9am PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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In a set of policies that might be described as forced gentrification, Helen Roxburgh writes, "tier one" Chinese cities like Shanghai and Beijing are demolishing older neighborhoods and relocating residents elsewhere.

On one hand, the relocations have been prompted by what the government calls the ills of overcrowding, pollution among them. "As a result, both Shanghai and Beijing, the Chinese capital, implemented population caps last year, leaving little room for additional growth – Shanghai plans to limit the population to 25 million, Beijing to 23 million."

But the relocations are also part of China's speedy push to develop, for which cities like Shanghai serve as showpieces. "Ongoing efforts to 'beautify' both cities have included rebuilding grittier districts, rounding up street vendors, closing or moving hundreds of markets and bricking up restaurants, bars and shops without licences."

While low-income residents are bearing the brunt of the policy, the government hopes to populate new urban areas, many of them vacant, that have sprung up on the outskirts of cities. "However, there will always be demand for lower-skilled jobs and services, experts say, so efforts to push migrant workers out of the city are instead likely to add new problems."

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Published on Monday, March 19, 2018 in The Guardian
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