Gentrification With Chinese Characteristics: Understanding Beijing’s Migrant Evictions

Gentrification With Chinese Characteristics: Understanding Beijing’s Migrant Evictions
A couple of migrant workers prepare to leave their apartment ahead of an eviction deadline in the outskirts of Beijing, China, Nov. 27, 2017 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

In late November, after a building fire killed 19 migrant workers in a shantytown on the southern outskirts of Beijing, the city government began forcibly evicting thousands of migrants before razing entire neighborhoods to the ground. The evictions have sparked an outcry from within China and raised questions about the country’s urbanization policies. In an email interview, Mark Frazier, a professor of politics and academic director of the India China Institute at The New School in New York, explains what is driving the evictions and how they fit into China’s broader urbanization policies.

WPR: Why is the Beijing city government evicting migrants on a massive scale? Are other urban governments taking this as a signal to evict their migrant populations?

Mark Frazier: The fire on Nov. 18 that killed 19 migrant workers and children in the Xihongmen neighborhood of Beijing gave the city government an excuse to launch a campaign against presumably unsafe living quarters throughout the city. The notice issued the day after the fire called for all such residential areas, which offer affordable rents for migrant families to live and operate small businesses, to be investigated on safety grounds and demolished—with apparently wide leeway as to whether safety violations were in fact found. The Xihongmen area was razed in a few days.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review