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© Nikiko/Pixabay
© Nikiko/Pixabay

Why Are Beijing's Hutongs Getting Bricked Up?

Picture of Anastasiia Ilina
Updated: 22 June 2017

Hutong-dwellers of Beijing are on high alert as their favourite bars and restaurants are being bricked up. Yes, you heard right – bricked up. Though some establishments remain operational with their front doors blocked by a pile of bricks, some are not as fortunate. Read on for more in the city’s latest turn of events.

Beijing’s new city policy is leaving no survivors – bars, restaurants, and convenience shops located in the city’s historic hutongs are all under attack and living in fear of a construction crew showing up at their door armed with cement and bricks. Have they done anything wrong? Technically, yes. These businesses have been operating for years under very cloudy legal circumstances.  Despite their now unattractive brick-clad appearance, many are carrying on – one much-loved pizza joint, Ramo, even took matters into its own hands and bricked itself up. If it’s going to happen, it might as well be a job well-done – right?

Carefully bricked up Ramo | Courtesy of Anastasiia Ilina

Like Ramo, most bricked-up locations continue business as usual. Many have resorted to alternative backdoor entrances or even windows, as with falafel joint Moxi Moxi.

Window service at Moxi Moxi | Courtesy of Anastasiia Ilina

The Middle Eastern favorite tried to continue serving midnight falafel through a sliding panel. Not for long though, as the establishment was forced to close its doors, or windows at this point, and move to a safer location away from the targeted hutongs.

Entrance to Hot Cat Club | Courtesy of Anastasiia Ilina

The popular live music bar Hot Cat Club has received a brick makeover as well. Though it remains operational, patrons weep for the days when the doors were wide open and customers could pop outside with a beer on a muggy summer evening.

Who’s next? | Courtesy of Anastasiia Ilina

Has the policy worked? All in all, it has created obstacles for businesses operating in some of the most popular areas of Beijing, which will certainly bring down their profit. Assuming that the long-term goal of the authorities is to exterminate illegal business altogether, they are hoping that the owners will quit as soon as their endeavours become less profitable. That said, the whole operation has questionable methods and an uncertain future. As local residents hold on to what is left of Gulou culture, they walk the streets prepared for the losses that the next day may bring.