Authorities in Beijing’s have reportedly used concrete to seal off wells that had served as makeshift homes for migrant workers in a particularly impoverished area in Chaoyang district. Hug China reports:
66-year-old migrant woman Quan Youzhi from Henan province has lived in the well for years. But she will not be allowed to live there any more as Beijing officials have sealed it up with concrete after media attention to this group of well dwellers.
Sorry, back up a second. What do you mean “well dwellers”?
Living in wells is apparently what some people do. Hug China again:
A report by Beijing Morning News on Thursday that several wells in downtown Beijing have been used as home by some old couples and migrant workers for years has caused sensation in China with all major online news portals putting up the story as headline.
…In one well, a couple in their seventies that make a living by begging had lived there for five to six years. In another well, a 53-year-old man with the surname Wang who earns his living by collecting scraps said he had lived there for 20 years to save the bed rent (not apartment rent of course) that normally costs 300 yuan per month in an area where apartment price has rocketed to 40 to 50 thousand yuan per square meter.
Local residents said more than 20 wells in the area had been used by poor people as homes and the well dwellers are mostly migrant workers making a living collecting scraps or washing cars.
So what did police, part of that caring arm of the nation-state whose duty is to serve and protect, do to help after the public expressed shock and sympathy?
Instead of helping the well dwellers to find a better shelter while letting them earn money in the city, just one day after the Beijing Morning News report, officials from Chaoyang district dispatched workers to the area and sealed off all the wells with concrete.
Yup, they sure did. In a country that values the concept of “face,” this story comes as a surprise. As if living in a well wasn’t demeaning enough, these people are given absolutely no face by being kicked out of their wells. Yeah. What do you think the cops’ parting words might have been, for maximum insult? “Go live with rats” is out, since, you know, these people were already living inside wells. “Go live somewhere less filthy, you degenerates”?