Thursday, December 11, 2014

China's Rat Tribe

“Rat Tribe” explores the lives of low-waged migrant workers who live underground in Beijing and make up one-third of the city’s estimated 20 million people. These waiters, karaoke hostesses, hairdressers, chefs, security guards, domestic workers and kitchen helpers are the backbone of Beijing’s service industry. But they have been unkindly dubbed the “rat tribe” for making a home in Beijing’s 6,000 basements and air raid shelters — about one-third of the city’s underground space.

Photographer Sim Chi Yin spent two years shooting members of the capitol’s so-called “rats.” “

Monthly rent for a single that sleeps two and three people can range between an affordable 300 and 700 renminbi (about $50 and $100). But kitchens and bathrooms are communal. Hallways are dank, dark, and airless.

The spending of the rich and famous, meanwhile, is insatiable. Consultancy McKinsey & Company forecasts that China will dominate more than one-third of worldwide luxury spending by 2015, a stark comparison to an urban underbelly populated by people referred to as rats.

China's Rat Tribe, by Sim Chi Yin from Invisible Photographer Asia on Vimeo.

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