posted on February 22nd 2015 in with 0 Comments

Beijing/RatTribe/2014/pictures by Sim Chi Yin / VII / story by Ian Johnson / Li Hai, 22, nickname “Xiao Pang”, literally “Little Fatty”, writer/editor for a fishing television station, from Tongzhou, Beijing’s eastern outskirts, about 40 km away./ / Li Yang: Underground Fisherman Li Yang is trained as a car mechanic but is living in a basement hoping to be something else: an expert writer on fly fishing. Unlike most residents of underground units, he is from a town near Beijing–Tongzhou. His parents were farmers and he got odd jobs near home but was passionate about fly fishing. In 2012 he won a fishing contest and got to know editors of a fishing television Channel. For the past three years he’s supported himself through a variety of jobs: food delivery boy, courier, waiter, supermarket cashier, shoe peddler. “I was pragmatic about it. I thought this is cheap. I can save 5-600 y a month so I just took it.” But he says that at times the basements can be fetid and dank–especially in the summer. “I leave the towel on my bed headboard and overnight it grows mold: green, blue, white, spotty ones.î Li says he doesn’t reject the “rat tribe” label. “If I wrote an article on the basements I would also use the words ‘rat tribe’ because itís a precise description of what this is. But I wouldnít say I look down on the people who live in basements. I think it all boils down to oneís mentality. “I donít feel thereís anything pitiful about my situation. I have a room, a bed, and once Iím lying under your blanket, whatís the difference between me and other people?”

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