Chinese authorities put migrant workers behind fences

In a new strategy to contain urban crime, Chinese authorities are fencing some of the colonies inhabited by large migrant populations, causing widespread resentment.

Updated: May 06, 2010, 17:37 PM IST

Beijing: In a new strategy to contain
urban crime, Chinese authorities are fencing some of the
colonies inhabited by large migrant populations, causing
widespread resentment.

The new strategy called the "sealed management" is
evolved by the Beijing district government to stop migrant
crime.

Laosanyu, which has 90 per cent migrant population, is
just the first of 16 communities that will be fenced off as
part of the district government`s new system.

"Migrants put behind fences," the official China Daily
reported.

"Laosanyu looks like a military base or a prison.

There are tall metal fences and high walls surrounding the
community and its only entrance is guarded 24 hours a day by
men in uniform," the newspaper said.

The heightened security is part of controversial moves
by authorities to curb rising crime rates in areas with large
migrant populations.

Under the program, residents have to show passes to
get through the ring of steel around the 7-hectare village.

Teams of volunteers also patrol the streets several
times a day, while newly-installed closed-circuit cameras
sweep the area for suspicious activity, the newspaper said.

"If this system effectively improves public security,
we will promote the method to the rest of the villages in the
city. The entire process is expected to be finished in June,"
Zuo Baoshuan, an official with local public security bureau
said.

The project has drawn applause and outrage in equal
measure the newspaper said with some saying that it could help
to contain the rising thefts and crime rate.

However, critics say the new measures are
discriminatory to migrants - who are often accused by
officials of being responsible for the majority of crime in
city suburbs - and threaten civil rights.

"Closing off the village will do nothing but harm,"
said Yuan Chongfa, deputy director of the National Development
and Reform Commission`s research centre for small towns and
cities.

"This move not only closes the door on migrants but
also on future development. This could even damage the city`s
image."

Many residents were sceptical that the high fences and
guards will help reduce crime, the daily said.

PTI