Police began rounding up migrants, beggars and others deemed undesirable today as China's capital spruces up for celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of communist rule on Oct. 1.
About 3,200 police sent out before dawn collected 463 people from train stations, pedestrian underpasses, railway bridges, streets and other hideouts, the official newspaper Beijing Evening News reported. Among the beggars were a 10-year-old girl and her 5-year-old sister from the eastern province of Anhui who had no adult looking after them, the paper said.
The report said police in Beijing would expel or take into custody beggars, the homeless, unemployed people living on the streets, the mentally ill with no one to care for them and "all others who under national regulations should be taken in and sent away."
The number of beggars and homeless people has grown substantially in recent years as people have left impoverished rural areas for Beijing. They are usually tolerated but occasionally are rounded up and sent home.
The report did not say what would happen to those who had no home to return to.
Other cities also are rounding up migrants and sending them home. The report noted that in other places, the Ministry of Civil Affairs was in charge, but in Beijing the police were "because of its importance for social stability."
With rural incomes lagging and millions of city dwellers out of work, Chinese authorities are taking special care to ensure nothing mars the 50th anniversary celebrations. They have cracked down on dissidents, banned a popular meditation movement and stepped up an anti-crime campaign.