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Beijing to see price, population rises
By Liu Li (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-02-01 03:06

Commodity prices in Beijing will increase by 3 per cent this year, a blue paper looking at the development of the Chinese capital predicts.

"Shortages in coal, electricity and oil will result in price rises in public service sectors," wrote An Qun, a researcher with the Beijing Municipal Commission of Development and Reform, who contributed to the blue paper, which was published on Sunday.

Li Daozhi, a Beijing resident, feeds a magpie with his grandchildren. [newsphoto/file]
Prices of the three products increased by 72 yuan (US$9) per ton, 0.036 yuan (0.4 US cents) per kilowatt-hour and 0.44 yuan (5.3 US cents) per litre, respectively, last year in the national capital.

"Predicted price jumps in public services will push the total price level higher this year," the article claimed.

Meanwhile, prices of agricultural products will continue to rise, An wrote.

In 2004, the price of food increased by 5.3 per cent. That alone had an impact on the city's overall price rises.

Furthermore, the construction of venues for the 2008 Olympics throughout the year will push up prices of building materials.

"High prices of oil on the global market will also influence domestic prices," the researcher wrote.

But there is some good news for consumers, as prices of motor vehicles and electrical household appliances are set to continue to fall.

The paper, edited by the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences, says the population of the city will hit 16 million before 2008, which is in excess of a population of 14 million that it deems reasonable.

As for the issue of migrant labourers, the paper says more than half of them believe Beijing is a tolerant city.

"Nearly 51 per cent of migrant workers said Beijing was a tolerant city for various groups and cultures, according to a survey conducted by the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences among those engaged in the service sector," Li Weidong, an academy researcher, wrote in his article included in the blue paper.

Meanwhile, 26 per cent of those surveyed said Beijingers looked down upon migrant workers.

Nine per cent of those polled said they believed Beijing was a city full of prejudice and inequity. Eight per cent said the city was cold and without empathy.

"Survey result revealed that although migrant workers were on low salaries, had unfavourable living conditions and were facing heavy burdens from family members, most of them recognized the value of being in the city and felt satisfied with their lives there," the researcher wrote.

By contrast, another article in the paper pointed out that migrant workers were excluded by the social security system.

"Salaries of migrant workers, especially those who used to be farmers, are much lower than local residents," Xiang Dexing, a researcher with the Beijing Federation of Trade Unions, wrote.

According to Xiang, statistics show that the average salary of a migrant worker is 800 yuan (US$97) per month, only 38 per cent of a local resident's.

An investigation into 2,600 local residents found that 48 per cent farmer-turned-labourers had the lowest social status.

There are a total of 4 million migrant workers in Beijing without permanent residency permits, sources say.

There are 43 articles in the blue paper from research organs, government departments and non-governmental organizations.

It has become common practice for the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences to compile and edit such a paper at the beginning of every year.

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