Beijing shopkeepers in rare protest over evictions

BEIJING • Over 100 shopkeepers at a popular market held a rare street protest yesterday against what they call unreasonable eviction as the Chinese capital seeks to curb population growth.

The crowd gathered outside the entrance of the Beijing Zoo wholesale market in the west of the city, shouting, "Return our money!"

Rows of police officers, some in riot gear, encircled the crowd. Police also patrolled inside the market, where many stalls were already shuttered. Debris was strewn over sections that had been demolished.

Street protests are rare in the Communist-ruled country, especially ones that continue for days, and the authorities usually shut them down swiftly.

Get The Straits Times
newsletters in your inbox

The merchants say they have been demonstrating since being notified a week ago that some sections of the market must clear out by today, and that everything must be shut down by the end of the month. Most of the shopkeepers are migrants from other parts of the country.

"We are not making any big demands. We just want some appropriate compensation," said one protester, who gave her name as Ye.

Built in the mid-1980s, the market drew nearly 100,000 customers a day in 2015, according to the state-owned China Daily.

In recent months, Beijing has shut down thousands of roadside businesses as part of a city-wide "clean-up" campaign, according to state media reports.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 24, 2017, with the headline 'Beijing shopkeepers in rare protest over evictions'. Print Edition | Subscribe