Sim Chi Yin / VII A migrant worker carries her son as she walks through the entrance to a basement hostel in Beijing, August 20, 2011.
Sim Chi Yin / VII Liu Jing, 21, sits in her basement apartment in Beijing, April 26, 2011. Jing moved to Beijing from the central province of Henan and now works as a pedicurist.
Sim Chi Yin / VII A resident waits to use the communal bathroom and washing area of a basement hostel on the western outskirts of Beijing, August 24, 2011.
Sim Chi Yin / VII Master Yan, middle, and his students, Song Zhifei, right, and Li Guoqiang, left, practice the Chinese martial art of Wushu in his basement training room in Beijing, February 28, 2011.

Beijing's "Rat People"

The Chinese Dream Goes Underground

The "rat tribe" is a derogatory term used to describe the one million migrants who live deep beneath Beijing’s streets: in basements under skyscrapers, hotels, and residential blocks. Those who have never interacted with these people living underground sometimes think of them as low-lifes and criminals who dwell in chaos and squalor, but the basement-dwellers are often simply migrants who throng to Beijing in the hopes of attaining the Chinese dream.

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