Beijing to shut small businesses to curb urban population

Beijing, Aug 4 (IANS) Low-wage and migrant workers will be discouraged from entering the Chinese capital by closing down small businesses like ‘floating stalls and junkyards’ in order to control the rising urban population, a report said Wednesday.

A report released by the municipal legislature has suggested that population-control measures be part of the city’s 2011-15 development plan, China Daily reported.

Last year, Beijing’s population reached 19.72 million of which 7.26 million were migrant workers who had been living in the city for less than a year, according to official data.

Du Peng, an expert with the population research institute at Renmin University of China, said: ‘To introduce strict management over small businesses such as floating stalls and junkyards will definitely hurt businesses.’

‘If they cannot make a living in the capital city, they might go back to their hometown or shift to other cities,’ Du said.

Experiences of other cities in population control should also be taken into account, officials said.

For example, ‘Shanghai has been doing very well in regulating street vendors’, said Du. ‘You can hardly see any illegal stalls in the street. This not only helps reduce the number of low-wage laborers, but also makes the city tidy and clean.’

However, Qiao Xiaochun, of Peking University, said such a policy might have limited effect.

‘The existence of the massive small businesses, which absorb many migrant workers in the capital city, tells that there is a great demand for them. They also provide inexpensive services to the public,’ he said.

‘To shut them down forcefully is not the proper way, since it may drive up people’s living costs,’ added Qiao, ‘and this violates the rule of the market economy.’

Qiao suggested: ‘We may introduce a system through which inhabitants who contribute more to Beijing, or who pay more in taxes, could be granted more privileges in the capital’.

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