空心化 Beijing: the hollowed-out city

Another season of mass migration is winding down in China, and the numbers are starting to come in. This year’s Spring Festival travel was up 2.7% from last year, totaling over 82 million travelers, according to the National Rail Service. As mentioned in an earlier post, an excellent depiction of this migration can be found in Fan Lixin’s film Last Train Home (归途列车).  More people traveled through Guangzhou Train Station (the one featured in the film) than any other station in the country (nearly 2.5 million), and Guangzhou Province accounted for about 8.7 million train travelers altogether.

An interesting story also appeared on ShanghaiDaily.com about Beijing being ’emptied’ by the Spring Festival exodus of some 9 million people:

The city, which has 20 million permanent residents together with millions of floating people, saw more than 9 million leave via railway stations, airports and long-distant coach terminals ahead of the weeklong holiday, according to the Beijing Municipal Commission of Transport. Native Beijingers have subsequently been enjoying smooth traffic on the streets and relaxed journeys on buses and subways.

The article goes on to say that one out of every three permanent residents of Beijing migrated there from somewhere else.

A series of photos appeared online showing empty streets and sidewalks in Beijing. It’s sort of a reversal of the 空心化 (kongxinhua, or ‘hollowed-out’) countryside phenomenon that was the subject of an earlier post.

Empty Beijing - from 近千万人离京返乡 北京变“空城” (news.163.com)

Empty Beijing – from 近千万人离京返乡 北京变“空城” (news.163.com)

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