jueves, 19 de diciembre de 2013

Urbanization’s Cost in China

In China, a massive migration of 250 million rural residents into cities by 2025 is so rapid and far-reaching, there are concerns that some people will be left behind.

Self-study activity:
Watch this five-minute New York Times video and say whether the statements below are true or false.

The activity is suitable to intermediate students.

1 The creation of a consumer culture and of large groups of farmers unadapted to city life are two of the consequences of this migration.
2 The whole of Yang Jingxin's family live on his income.
3 The government doesn't give any money or help to the new city residents.
4 Most of the people who moved from rural areas to the city lived on subsidies in their villages.
5 Residents from rural areas are being forced to move to the city.
6 Human rights seem to be a priority for the Chinese government.
7 Written complaints seem to have hardly any positive effects.

As China moves forward with ambitious plans to move 250,000,000 rural residents to the city by 2025, farmland is being replaced by high-rise buildings at an unprecedented pace. But the timeline and mass of migration is so rapid and far-reaching there are concerns that some people will be left behind.
But one by-product of the urban movement could be the creation of the consumer culture. Another possible result could be the creation of very large groups of farmers unable to find their way in their new environment.
On the outskirts of Xion, Yang Jingxin and his family have been living with his nephew since his village was bulldozed three years ago.
The situation is like this: There are six people in my family, me, my wife, my mum, my son, daughter-in-law and grandson, six people. Our entire income is from my son and daughter-in-law.
Residents transitioning from farm to city are given various government compensations, including money and new apartments, but Mr Yang claims he’s received nothing from the farm which he says was taken. With his farm and way of life buried in the past, Mr Yang says he doesn’t have the resources to live a modern life.
Many of those who moved from rural areas were surviving off the land. They grew vegetables, raised animals and drew water from their own wells. But in the city, their skills as farmers don’t help them  [bring] money to the table. In a low-rise building down the street, Mr Yang gathers with his neighbours from his former village every day, smoking cigarettes and drinking tea. The mood in the room is dark. Many here say they’ve been waiting for nearly three years for compensation or new houses in the city.
They forcibly tore down my house, they hired some jobless guys and thugs. They climbed over my wall into my yard. They ripped the keys away from my belt and opened the inside lock of my house door. They dragged me away and lifted my wife out. Then they drove an excavator in and destroyed my house.
The government says it’s working to adjust laws to better protect farmers’ rights, but many in this village have stories of being bullied out, or forced to sign contracts they are not allowed to read.
We haven’t got a penny now, not a penny. They told us the account was ready, that they would first tear down your house and then give you the money, but there was no contract.
Huiqing’s houses were torn down without any official paperwork. This group hired a lawyer from Beijing to help with the settlement. However, the case did not get far after the lawyer says he was intimidated by powerful developers.
In the end, we didn’t reach an agreement. They got violent and took me away from the villager’s home. They hit me in the head, slapped my face and pushed me down the stairs. Then they forced me into the car and kept hitting me. They wouldn’t let me leave for hours. They forced me to meet their leader. They took me there and pushed me out of the car. I saw the office of their leader. I thought I would be safe but it wasn’t true. I was pushed in the office and I saw him sitting behind the desk. He was just staring at me. Then the thugs poured tea on my face and body. He just stared at me in silence.
As Chinese urbanization machine rolls onward, some experts believe human rights may be a victim of what the Chinese government calls progress. One result could be a growing underclass of angry farmers turned unemployed urban citizens.
If you go to write a complaint letter, you’ll find most letters are like stones dropped into the sea, or some departments will just leave it to a lower branch, but the lower branch is actually the problem maker. So after you write the letter, your complaint will go to the people who make the problem. So you can imagine, how can the problem be solved? It’s very difficult.
I don’t want how to live anymore. I’ve just been borrowing money and doing some small jobs to earn some cash. I’ve used my savings to support our lives. In the future, I don’t think we can continue to live like this. We’ve lost our basic life insurance. The future is dark for us and we don’t know where to go.
Reporting for The New York Times in China, this is Jonah Kessel.

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