China: Another Great Leap Forward? by Justin Jin

Image 1 of 48
Next >
60 year old Li Rui scavenges in his former village - now bulldozed into a giant construction site - for building materials in Liaocheng. Li was a farmer until three years ago, when the local government announced it would raze down his village and turn farmland into an urban development zone. Li said he and other villagers were involuntarily moved to another village. This year Li expects to be resettled into one of the high-rises behind the row of commercial residential buildings in the back of this picture, where former Chen Zhuang villagers are being relocated en masse. Li says he was compensated for the relocation but not adequately. He has no income, no land, and no skill applicable to the marketplace. However, he is happy to move into a comfortable urban environment, where he no longer needs to till the land. Instead, Li is scavenging. This could bring him a few yuan for a few hours work, he says. The Chinese government plans to move 250 million rural residents into urban areas over the coming dozen years though it is unclear whether people want to move and where the money for this project will come from. Further urbanisation is meant to drive up consumption to counterbalance an export orientated economy and end subsistence farming but the drive to get people off the land is causing tens of thousands of protests each year. /Felix Features