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Photographers

SIM CHI YIN

Based in Beijing

Portfolio

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    China/personal project/[Sub/Urban]/on-going/ March 2014/Urbanisation/Guangzhou/picture by Sim Chi Yin / VII Stuck in a moment: In the middle of what is Guangzhou's new Central Business District, this one-time fishing village now lies in a half-demolished state and legal limbo as villagers challenge the government in court for more compensation for their land. Meanwhile, the new business district, with its posh hotels and plush office blocks has arisen all around the urban village which has now largely become cheap housing for migrant workers and remaining residents. All over China, people are being moved off the land and up into apartment blocks, and rural land turned into new towns, as China is swept by a government-engineered massive urbanisation push -- changing landscapes, livelihoods and lifestyles in a single generation. The past year was a watershed in the world’s most populous country: for the first time, there are more Chinese living in urban areas than rural ones.
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    Burma/personal project/[Burmese Spring]/on-going/2012March/ picture by Sim Chi Yin / VII Fragile spring: In the two years since Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's election into parliament marked a political and economic opening up, Burma has seen rapid changes, especially in Rangoon (also known as Yangon) and other cities. At the time of her election (when this picture was shot) there were a new but tentative hope among Burmese intellectuals that real change will finally come to Burma. This palpable sense of anticipation for a better life and more open politics was mixed with a worry about the complexities change will bring. Two years on, civil society has re-emerged, and material changes have arrived in the form of Mastercard and Coke, tides of tourists and frenetic new construction of buildings and roads. But the country has also seen ethnic strife break out and the complexities of globalisation are coming to bear.
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    China/Zhejiang/ April 2014/rural women / Sim Chi Yin / VII Zhang Chunzhu, 76, who lives in Liyushan village outside Yiwu city in the eastern province of Zhejiang, makes lunch for her husband and herself in between herding goats and planting vegetables. Her four sons and daughter have all left to live in cities and towns. Rural Chinese women like her have land registered within the households of their husbands (or fathers, before they are married). Those who are not registered under a male household or who are divorced often face the loss of their land, or less compensation compared to men if their land is redeveloped or requisitioned for urbanization. / / Women in rural China often come up against an underlying gender discrimination in the redistribution of land, particularly whenever there is a change in their marital status or if they are not registered as part of male households. They are usually granted land as part of their fathers' or husbands' households and although the country's laws state that men and women are equal, there is often a bias towards men. One reason is that much discretion is given to the village committees, and with rural women still implictly holding a lower status in the villages, they are often given the short end of the stick.
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    China/Anhui/October2012/Sim Chi Yin/ VII For three decades since China opened up its economy and loosened restrictions on domestic travel, younger rural Chinese have been voting with their feet and packing off to the cities and towns to find work and an urban life. The trend has become more pronounced, even as the government rolls out a massive blueprint to urbanise even once-rural and remote places by building new towns in the middle of rural lands.
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    2012March/Burma/ picture by Sim Chi Yin / VII Up until its recent opening up, Burma was often seen as among the world's most isolated nations, spoken of on the same breath as North Korea. But across the country, Korean soaps are a big hit on TV, leading to a "Koreanisation" of fashion trends among young Burmese. And in recent years, the mini-skirt, or the "micro-mini", has made its debut on Rangoon's streets where the long sarong-like traditional longyi is also increasingly replaced by jeans and other western-style clothes.
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    2012March/Burma/ picture by Sim Chi Yin / VII Monks on a leisurely visit to Mandalay Hills. Monks are revered in this largely Buddhist country and led mass protests in 2007, leading to a crackdown and an exodus of Burmese activists into Thailand. In the two years since Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's election into parliament marked a political and economic opening up, Burma has seen rapid changes, especially in Rangoon (also known as Yangon) and other cities. At the time of her election (when this picture was shot) there were a new but tentative hope among Burmese intellectuals that real change will finally come to Burma. This palpable sense of anticipation for a better life and more open politics was mixed with a worry about the complexities change will bring. Two years on, civil society has re-emerged, and material changes have arrived in the form of Mastercard and Coke, tides of tourists and frenetic new construction of buildings and roads. But the country has also seen ethnic strife break out and the complexities of globalisation are coming to bear.
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    2012/Burma/ picture by Sim Chi Yin / VII A young women uses her mobile phone on a ferry boat-ride back from the villages to the Lake Inle's main town of Nyaung Shwe as dusk falls. The spread of the mobile phone network and use of mobile phones even in rural areas is one of the most visible changes that Myanmar has undergone in the past year as political reforms have taken hold and the country has opened up its economy to the market and outside world.
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    Beijing's "Rat Tribe"/March2011/ picture by Sim Chi Yin / VII/ In a central Beijing basement room he shares with two others, He Bing, 23, who recently arrived from Chongqing city tries on his new shirt and borrowed tie and suit for size the night before a examination to become an insurance salesman. Migrants from other parts of China who are the backbone of the service sector in Beijing typically live in simple houses outside of the city centre or in air-raid shelters or basements like this one, paying 300 to 700 yuan a month in rent. With property prices skyrocketing in the Chinese capital, they cannot afford any other type of housing. Air raid shelters and basement spaces beneath apartment blocks are partitioned into rooms and rented out. Basement-dwellers, unkindly dubbed the 'rat tribe' by the Chinese press, rarely see the sun from their rooms and often put up with mold and mildew on their clothes and bedding in the summer, but many make this space their comfortable home in their time in the capital.
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