There will always be poverty. Even if the poor hide themselves underground, the sparkle of the urban landscape will be dimmed a bit. But a society has tomake sure themajoritymoves up the economic ladder to ensure that prosperity trickles into every nook and cranny. Compassion can alleviate symptoms, but it’ll take structural reformto prevent an army of dungeon squatters forming in our big cities.
That a man is forced to live underground to save money is a concern for all of us, but successfully returning him to society takes more than charity. It requires a better balance in urban-rural policy.
Wang Xiuqing had been living in an underground utility compartment for some 10 years before his living conditions became a news story that started a chain reaction.
The Hebei province native was making a living washing cars, and he needed to save money to support his three children. And his underground "cell", close to the Metropark Lido Hotel in Beijing, was sealed by authorities together with a dozen others in the same district.
For a while, Wang was left homeless. Public indignation was channeled toward the reporter who first revealed Wang's "cell". Had Wang been left alone, they argued, he would have had a warm place to stay through the winter cold.