Officials in the southeastern Chinese province of Guangdong are learning that hiding a problem isn’t the same as fixing it. As readers may recall, the Guangdong city of Shenzhen in April evicted 80,000 people it considered “high risk” ahead of an upcoming international sporting event. Now residents in nearby Dongguan are irked that many of those thrown out of Shenzhen – including former inmates, vagrants and the mentally ill – appear to be resettling in their town.
Police in Dongguan, a sprawling manufacturing center located roughly 60 kilometers northwest of Shenzhen, are under fire from residents who claim the city has seen an uptick in robberies and violent crimes recently. The wave of complaints reached such a crescendo that city police this week held a web chat to discuss the problem with concerned netizens. Dongguan authorities haven’t outwardly criticized Shenzhen’s program (open feuding between local governments is rare in China). But during the online chat, police officials did make a reference to the neighboring boomtown’s human clean-up effort ahead of the upcoming Summer Universiade: “The Shenzhen authorities are running a thorough check on those who violate the law and all types of criminals. That will indeed push some of the highly dangerous social groups to Dongguan,” local media quoted the Dongguan police as saying.
Experts on China’s public security apparatus, which is in the midst of its harshest crackdown on political dissent in more than a decade, are starting to question Shenzhen’s moves as well. “Some of those evicted have no criminal records. Their dignity and rights were compromised for the sake of the Universiade,” said Wang Dawei, a professor at the Chinese People’s Public Security University, according to a report Thursday in the Communist Party-backed Global Times. “Forcing them out without proper settlement might have caused more social problems than it solved.”