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Tomorrow’s City Folk


Text by Liu Haile Photographs by Zhou Yibo

China has been maintaining rapid economic development for years. Along with the country’s fast pace of urbanization, metropolitan demand for labor has also surged, luring increasing numbers of farmers to cities in seek of better income. Year after year, the workers “fly” back to their rural homes like migratory birds before Spring Festival for family reunions, and then return to the cities where they continue struggling to build a brighter future.

However, the expensive cost of living in cities has become a big burden for migrant workers earning humble incomes. In this context, underdeveloped communities, which are known as “urban villages” formed during the quick urbanization, have become preferred dwellings for migrant workers due to their comparatively low rent. Xiaojing Village in Lugouqiao Township, Beijing’s Fengtai District, is one such community.

Xiaojing has 3,000 native residents, but its migrant population is 10 times higher, of whom the majority hail from elsewhere in China. Compared to their fathers, this generation of migrant workers wants to assimilate into the urban lifestyle, and Xiaojing serves as a starting point on the road to becoming an urbanite.

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