Stark contrast found in living conditions for China’s rich and poor

World Today

In China, 270 million people have left their hometowns in rural areas and work in cities. About one-fifth of China’s population are migrant workers. Urbanization brings about chances of higher income than in rural areas, but the migrants usually find themselves at the very bottom of the ladder, in terms of social status, welfare and living conditions. The wealth gap is especially obvious when you compare the lifestyle of a migrant worker and a city resident.

CCTV’s Wang Yizhi visits one downtown community in Beijing, where she found the stark contrast above ground, and underground in just one building.

Stark contrast found in living conditions for China\'s rich and poor

Stark contrast found in living conditions for China\'s rich and poor

In China, 270 million people have left their hometowns in rural areas and work in cities. About one-fifth of China's population are migrant workers. Urbanization brings about chances of higher income than in rural areas, but the migrants usually find themselves at the very bottom of the ladder, in terms of social status, welfare and living conditions. The wealth gap is especially obvious when you compare the lifestyle of a migrant worker and a city resident. CCTV's Wang Yizhi visits one downtown community in Beijing, where she found the stark contrast above ground, and underground in just one building.

Highlights:

  • Beijing’s central business district is home to some of the city’s wealthiest people, but three meters underground, it’s a very different story.
  • Past the high-end cars one can reach the basements, originally designed as air raid shelters. Sixteen people live down there, in one, dark 20-square-meter space.
  • Living conditions are basic. Cooking is banned, so cold takeaways are always on the menu. A lack of windows means a lack of fresh air, and laundry that never smells fresh.
  • It’s estimated that around a million people are living underground in Beijing. Making it a staff dormitory bypasses the law that prohibits renting out these basements for residential purposes.
  • Hundreds of thousands of basements rental still exist, because many cannot afford to live above ground.