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Landslide exposes Shenzhen’s impoverished side

Last week's landslide in Shenzhen, China, exposed crowded living conditions on the city's outskirts. (LU HANXIN/Xinhua /Landov)

Shenzhen is known internationally for its glitzy shopping emporiums, sleek skyscrapers and tony apartments. Eva Dou and Chun Han Wong report for the Wall Street Journal that the Chinese city near Hong Kong also has a hidden side defined by poverty.  

Last week’s collapse of a landfill that buried scores of people and factories exposed the Shenzhen visitors rarely see, the article says. Grimy industrial parks and tiny farm plots are common on the city’s outskirts, where many factory workers subsist in crowded dorms. Two-thirds of Shenzhen’s 11 million residents are migrants with limited access to healthcare, education and other essential services, the Journal notes.

To the outside world, this once-sleepy fishing village exemplifies China’s potential. In just a few decades, the city transformed into a “manufacturing boomtown and a center of technological innovation,” the article says. The tragedy has sullied that carefully crafted image. And in the cruelest of ironies, poverty that China was long blind to finally commands worldwide attention after becoming invisible again — this time under rubble. 

Wall Street Journal

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