Expensive apartment communities have mushroomed in Beijing in recent years. Providing advanced facilities and a variety of services, these communities house the wealthiest in the city, people like media stars, coal mine owners and executives from multinational companies.
These communities are expanding from outlying areas into the central part of the city, and house prices there now match those of a rural villa. They are quite different from cheap apartment blocks built along noisy roads covered with thick dust. In the expensive communities, even the cobbled roads might be washed every day.
Stark contrasts between rich and poor can be found everywhere in Beijing. The rich can afford four digit monthly property management charges, while the poor can hardly see the sunlight from their apartments. The rich enjoy extensive services provided by the real estate developers, while the poor live far from hospitals and shopping malls.
But Wen Wei Po, the Hong Kong based newspaper, claims that strict boundaries between rich and poor communities are damaging to social stability. It suggests the rich should live alongside the poor.
According to the newspaper, the rich occupy too much expensive land in the city's urban areas. They live in business hubs where shopping malls are filled with luxuries. Their communities are surrounded by highly-rated schools. Furthermore, the city keeps demolishing old housing to build expensive communities for the rich. A lot of Beijing citizens feel it is unfair to force the poor to move out for the rich.
The discrepancy in living conditions between these two groups triggers envy among the poor against the rich, despite Beijingers being well-known for their easy-going nature. Crimes are reported from time to time in rich communities. Several cars in a community had their tyres slashed one night, and the suspect turned out to be a laid-off worker. The key motive for the act was anger resulting from the imbalance between the two groups.