VII Magazine: ‘The rat tribe’

The evening sun sits low in the smoggy Beijing sky. Beneath a staid, maroon apartment block, Jiang Ying, 24, is stirring from her bed after having slept through the day. Day is night and night is day anyway, in the windowless world she inhabits three floors below ground.

Pint-sized and spiky-haired, Jiang Ying is among an estimated one million migrant workers who live beneath this city. Like millions of Chinese who come from across the country with dreams of making it big in the capital, she traveled to Beijing from her native Inner Mongolia three years ago, and now works at a hip bar in the heart of Beijing’s nightclub district. But even so, she can barely make ends meet.

Faced with sky-high property prices, low-waged migrant workers (who make up a third of Beijing’s population of 20 million) often have to resort to living underground.

Need to Know presents VII Magazine, a journalistic partnership with VII Photo, which gives readers unprecedented intimate access to the work of the world’s leading photojournalists. Every day, our partners at VII showcase a new photo, and each week, a new video or audio slideshow.

 

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