Underground Homes Found Beneath Chinese Apartment Building

by Sam Schenerman

In China, real estate prices are through the roof. So for those crafty or desperate enough, they live beneath the floor. Last week, an underground housing complex was unearthed beneath a luxury Beijing apartment complex.

Subterranean Blues

This complex housed over 400 people, mostly migrant workers. It was subdivided into “workers dormitories” with kitchens and even included a smoking room. Apparently this space was owned by the government. So it’s surprising the same government took so long to realize people were living down there. The wealthy tenants of the above Julong Gardens had complained about loiterers who didn’t seem to belong.

Despite shining skylines in China’s first-tier cities, most people in China are still really, really poor. Most Chinese people live on less than $10 a day. That whole “The CCP has lifted people out of poverty” thing? Yeah, that only applies to some people.

There are about 280 million migrant workers in China, and many of them struggle to make ends meet, so they end up living in squalor in expensive cities.

A man uses his laptop in a room beneath a building in Beijing. About 281,000 people live underground in Beijing according to city authorities, although reports say closer to one million inhabit the capital’s basements, former air raid shelters and other subterranean dwellings. (Photo: WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images)

The Ant Tribe

That underground housing complex is not an isolated incident. Bomb shelters and bunkers, built in the 1970s and 1980s, are being used by around a million migrant workers across China. Nicknamed the “Ant Tribe” or “Rat Tribe,” these oft-neglected citizens are not precisely breaking the law. The government hasn’t clearly determined the legality of their housing arrangements. And even if it were illegal, it’s China, so…laws, schmaws. But that’s for the future.

For the time being, these fallout shelters will stay open. Hopefully the residents will keep their eyes peeled for super mutants, and make sure to pop some Rad-X.

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