Rich and poor residents won't mix well

08:16, June 18, 2010      

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According to Wuhan Evening News, the city government has stipulated that, in future, real estate developers must set aside a certain number of apartments as low-priced and low-rent housing for people on low incomes - meaning that rich and poor people will live in the same areas.

At present, a popular practice for local governments is to develop low-priced housing in a certain area, usually in the suburban areas of cities with inconvenient traffic and living.

The appearance of "rich areas" and "poor areas" has been a hot topic. Some commentators on social issues argue that the separation of the rich and poor areas and the trend for low-income groups to be marginalized threaten to affect social harmony and stability.

The new Wuhan policy indicates that the government is aware of the problem and has taken action to solve it, but doubts remain on whether the policy will be effective.

Due to the lack of supervision and the defects of the system, low-priced housing often ends up being purchased by relatively rich people. Those who have money and power show interest even in low-priced housing located in suburban areas, so what will happen when the apartments are built in central urban areas?

And, if as planned the rich and poor live mixed in the same areas, will they be able to get along together? There is a vast divide between their consumption and living habits and it is unlikely that they will be able to live together harmoniously. Instead of the integration, the wealth gap will in all likelihood be revealed more clearly and vividly.

In a market economy, it is a normal phenomenon that the rich and poor concentrate in different living areas, something which can hardly be changed by any administrative power. The separation should not worry the government the most because a relentless widening of the income gap is a much more pressing problem.

What the public cares about is whether the rich get their wealth in legal and just means and whether everyone has equal opportunities to become rich.

We cannot deny the good intention of the Wuhan government and that the plan of mixed living is worth a try, but we had better not pin too much hope on it.

Excerpts from a comment in Beijing Youth Daily, June 17

Source: China Daily


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