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Beijing: Unification of Urban and Rural 2. Migrant workers and sealed villages

May 30, 2012

konjaku: In July 2010 western newspapers filed stories about villages around the periphery of Beijing with large migrant populations being sealed shut, using newly installed gates manned by guards.

People were required to obtain permits to go in and out of these villages. The Beijing administration called this new policy  “sealed management.” The purpose was to cut down on crime and general social disorder. In the western media, this was seen as another example of the Chinese government using heavy handed tactics against those already socially disadvantaged. In the Chinese press, sealed management was touted as an effort to save the villages from destabilizing outside influences. The policy was not readily accepted, and against a rising tide of skepticism and criticism, the Beijing administration, which “spares no pains to be low key” quickly changed the name of the policy to “community transformation management.”

An article in Caixin by Zhang Yanling uncovered an underlying reason for sealed villages which no one else had seen: this was a step in the Unification of Urban and Rural development plan (described in the previous post). The sealed villages were villages slated to be demolished and turned into green zones or scientific industrial parks,  the former inhabitants relocated  into residential towers. Sealing them was not to save them in their existing form, but to freeze them in place, without any further influx of migrants, until they could be torn down.

I  first post a number of stories on sealed management which appeared in the Chinese media in 2010.These have interesting bits of social detail. Then I will go on to Zhang Yanlin’s article.

Liu Qi and Meng Jianzhu affirm that the Beijing city Daxing district “Sealing the Village Management ” shall be extended to the whole city

2010-07-05 Xinhua Net/Beijing Times

The village surrounded by an enclosing wall, secured neighborhood gates, the entrances to roads with less traffic sealed off, checkpoints causing people and cars to show permits to enter and go out. This new type of community management in the natural villages that have arisen in Daxing district is inspiring hot debate in society at large. This reporter learned yesterday  that the Central Committee Political Bureau Committee and Beijing Municipal Party Committee Member Liu Qi, and State Council Member and Public Security Minister Meng Jianzhu a few days ago went to Daxing district Xihongmen town to investigate, accompanied by the Beijing Mayor Guo Jinlong.

As for the management effort to carry out a “village community transformation” in Daxing, Meng Jianzhu gave his full assent. He said, in the wake of the recent fast-paced economic development, the floating population has greatly increased, bringing about many city management problems. This new model of bringing about community transformation management in the villages is a positive and vigorous attempt to analyze and investigate ways of dealing with difficult problems. He hopes the action taken in Daxing will be pushed forward and further explored.

Liu Qi said, The model being carried out in Daxing is being developed into a comprehensive plan for Beijing as a whole. He said it improves management efficiency, cuts down on criminal cases,  improves the village environment, and increases the peoples’ sense of security.

On the Scene

Daxing district Xihongmen town Dashengzhuang village was the first place this new model was put into effect. As with other such villages, there is a checkpoint at the village entrance. People on foot or in vehicles must produce a pass to go through. At the village entrance Liu Qi picked up and examined a certain person’s pass. Below the registration information there appeared the person’s name, gender, ethnic group, as well as his or her place of origin, occupation in Beijing, identity card number, and cell phone number. He attentively questioned the patrolmen on duty, “Is this your only job, or do you have other responsibilities? How many are on your team? Is someone always here for 24 hours?”

An official cadre in the Daxing Public Security branch office said, Dashengzhuang village is one of those in Daxing in which the phenomenon of inverted population is the most severe. Members of the floating population number more than 2400, outnumbering permanent residents by 7 to 1. Public security problems are prominent. But putting up the enclosing wall, secured gates, police boxes, etc,  has resulted in zero incidents of crime in three successive years.  The 16 villages of Daxing Jinxing area have all put into practice this community management. The patrolmen and officials involved with the floating population altogether number 414.

Yang Guimei is a long time resident  of Dashengzhuang village. Inside his household compound there are five buildings, rented out to nine people. Liu Qi opened up and looked at the documents Yang Guimei has put together concerning his  migrant worker registration. He asked about what procedures Yang Guimei  follows when he rents. Are you required to file with the Floating Population Management branch office? Do your buildings conform with the standards for renting? Yang Guimei produced a booklet detailing his responsibilities as a landlord. In winter there must be heat, in the rainy season the building must be secure and dry.  Only after signing an agreement at the Floating Population Management office, is he allowed to rent. “Are your tenants satisfied with the state of public security here?” Liu Qi asked. Yang Guimei pointed to a bicycle outside. “You see that bicycle?It has been put there for several months. Before no one would dare to leave it for an hour  –it would be gone!”

“The higher ups praise us” The Daxing Party Branch Secretary Li Wuxiang happily told this reporter. They have put more than 20 people into this community management effort.  Some are on duty during the day. Then at night after they seal off the area, patrolmen take their shifts. The whole village is secure for all 24 hours of the day.

Li Wuxiang said, there is a portion of the floating population who engage in selling snacks. They do their best to keep from having an effect on their livelihood. The village allows them to set up stalls outside their stores at night, and to solicit business. The village residents used to complain that cars passing by at night harassed them. Now, with the community management, cars cannot drive through the village at high speeds, and the villagers can sleep soundly. Based on the residents’ suggestions, use of cars in the village has been limited, and parking is only in designated areas.

Reporter Zhang Ran, from the Beijing Daily News.

大兴区西红门镇 Daxing district, Xihongmen town

大生庄村 Dashengzhuang village

封村管理 sealed village management

社区化管理 community transformation management

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