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Big cities need slums for migrant workers
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A Chinese scholar from one of China's most prestigious universities claimed slums should be allowed to exist in China's big cities to provide shelters for the urban poor.

"It is no shame for big cities to have such areas. On the contrary, Shenzhen and other cities should take initiatives to build cheap residential areas for low-income residents including migrant workers who want to stay in the cities where they work," said Tsinghua University Professor Qin Hui.

"By building those areas, big cities could show more consideration for low-income residents, and provide them with more welfare," Qin said in his speech at a public forum on urbanization in Shenzhen over the weekend.

He urged big cities to provide living space for migrant workers, because most cannot settle in the cities where they work.

Qin said city authorities and urban residents enjoy the service of migrant workers but would try to keep them from becoming residents. This is a commonplace during the country's on-going urbanization and industrialization.

"To protect the rights of these people, we should respect their freedom to build houses in some designated areas, and improve their living conditions", said Qin.

He pointed out that migrant workers are not yet included in the low-priced housing plans which are made available by local governments to urban residents.

"Moreover, building and renting houses and apartments by poor migrant workers can also be regarded as illegal by local governments," said Qin.

Qin said some urban residents would argue that local governments cannot afford to build housing for the poor. However, the local governments could at least allow them to build their own housing in some designated areas in cities.

(Xinhua News Agency April 15, 2008)

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