The 2010 Blue Book, published this week, pointed out that “hatred of the rich” is now increasingly common among the residents of the Chinese capital, with more than 70 percent of respondents saying the gap between rich and poor was now “unreasonable.” Moreover, the majority of respondents singled out “people profiting from illicit activities” as the main cause of the increasing wealth gap.
The high cost of housing and healthcare, and an inequitable school system were all cited as issues of major concern. Nearly 72 percent of respondents said they were “very worried” about increasing house prices, 58 percent about healthcare and 48 percent about pensions.
The school system, particularly the preferential policies given to elite students in the capital, was singled out as an important source of social inequality. Moreover, the survey noted that the children rural migrant workers still faced numerous institutional and financial barriers to education, with migrant workers usually having to pay substantial fees for sub-standard schooling.
Schools for migrant children in the suburbs of Beijing are continually being demolished to make way for new developments, and migrant workers are being pushed further and further outside the city, often beyond the sixth ring road.
Moreover, entire villages that once provided affordable housing to migrant workers and young graduates are now being torn down. Tangjialing, once home to around 50,000 young workers, known colloquially as “ants,” is in the process of demolition, and will be replaced next year by a high-tech development park.
Demolition in progress. The main street in Tangjialing, late September 2010. Photo by Jeremie Beja