The government calls it “sealed management.” China’s capital has started gating and locking some of its lower-income neighborhoods overnight, with police or security checking identification papers around the clock, in a throwback to an older style of control.
It’s Beijing’s latest effort to reduce rising crime often blamed on the millions of rural Chinese migrating to cities for work. The capital’s Communist Party secretary wants the approach promoted citywide. But some state media and experts say the move not only looks bad but imposes another layer of control on the already stigmatized, vulnerable migrants.
So far, gates have sealed off 16 villages in the sprawling southern suburbs, where migrants are attracted to cheaper rents and in some villages outnumber permanent residents 10 to one.
“In some ways, this is like the conflict between Americans and illegal immigrants in the States. The local residents feel threatened by the influx of migrants,” Huang Youqin, an associate professor of geography at the University at Albany in New York who has studied gating and political control in China, said in an e-mail. “The risk is that the government can control people’s private life if it wants to.”
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