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Dawangjing follow-up 2: a trove of benefits

September 6, 2012

konjaku: The story of Beiwu and Dawangjing is meant to be a happy one. The villagers cast off backwardness and disorder, to become residents in a new, shiny residential complex, with promises of financial security and the privileges of urban residents. In Beiwu however, the start of the process was clouded by the existence of several hold-outs resisting demolition. Armed gangs entered the village to intimidate and physically abuse certain households, leading to the tragic case of Xi Xinzhu (“Beiwu follow-up 3 and 4: Resistance,” posted July 2012). Also, the villagers had doubts, as the government held back from transferring them to a city household registry, which would bring increased benefits. Because of this, the demolition process took six months. In contrast, in Dawangjing the terms seem better, and apparently there has been no resistance. It does indeed seem to be a happy story, with the villagers looking forward to the many benefits that will cushion their future.

Looking forward to “going to town,”  and entering city life


Source: Economic Daily

model of Jingwang Jiayuan

Where Jingshun Road and and the 5th Ring Road meet, there is a village called Dawangjing. Although it was a close neighbor to Beijing city proper, the villagers had to stay part of Wangjing sub-district. Now, as part of a pilot project in urban and rural unification, the process of merging into Beijing city proper is on an accelerated pace.

Living in a spacious and well lit residential tower is the most fervent dream of 78 year old villager Chen Xingquan. By the end of this year, the dream will be realized. Their family, from grandparents to grandchildren, will move into the designated housing for Dawangjing village, “Jingwang Jiayuan” (Jingwang Homeland). This old person said excitedly, “I can hardly believe I will be able to take on the life of a city dweller.”

As a long time resident of Dawangjing, Chen Xingquan deeply loved his native place. He told this reporter the origin of the village name. “wangjing” means “overlooking Beijing.” Several hundred years ago, one could look directly east from the village and see the towers over the city gates, he said. This reporter was unable to verify this point, but this represents the Dawangjing villagers’ sense of hovering just outside the city, and longing to live inside it.

Dawangjing in area is 106.6 hectares, with 1692 households, 2998 registered residents. Here there is not row upon row of tall buildings, but only out-moded low slung one story houses. Here there are not broad and level roads, only small and narrow alleyways. Instead of a clean and tidy environment, there is a aging infrastructure. As a local person said, “with one matchstick if you poke a running water pipe you could turn it into a geyser!” For a long time, Dawangjing has retained the characteristics of a village, but it is about to take one large step to becoming a city district brimming with internationalization, as “Wangjing New City.” Against this bright new contrast, Dawangjing villagers with some embarrassment for the moment continue to pass their days in “Wangjing” outside the city.

Since the 90s, renting rooms to migrant workers has been the Dawangjing villagers’ principal source of income. “At its height, there were 45,000 members of the floating population in the village,” the Cuigezhuangxiang township head Hu Zhenjian told this reporter. At the time the Dawangjing pilot project began, 30, 000 members were registered in the village, 10 times the amount of village residents. Villager Liang Guangcui told this reporter that many villagers divided their houses into smaller rooms which they sublet. One after another they built additional stories over their houses, or buildings in their courtyards, or illegal buildings on collective land despite repeated bans.

“During the day one was pushed by crowds on the street, at night electricity and water use was strained to the breaking point.” The buildings were low and damp, with mildew on the corners of the walls. In winter there was no heat, we had to burn coal to warm ourselves. You had to put a hat on when you went outside for a walk, to keep the coal dust off your head.”

On 2009-02-09, the villagers changed from Wangjing (overlooking Beijing) to the state of “rongjing”(merging into Beijing). The first step was to demolish the village and move the households. The villagers looked forward to this, but were also apprehensive. Villager Tang Hongxun: “In our household compound our family consists of eight people living together, it is too crowded. We look forward to moving to a higher building, but will the compensation fund be appropriate or not? Will the replacement housing be suitable or not?” As the project proceded, Tang Hongxun’s doubts gradually dissipated. “According to the project policy, with the compensation fund we can buy five residential suites. Finally we’ll have more room to live.” Tang Hongxun was very satisfied.

Other villagers also expressed satisfaction. According to the Municipal Party Committee Secretary Liu Qi, “In 28 days, all 1692 households have signed agreements to relinquish their current houses and move. More than 25,000 square meters of buildings have been demolished. This is all 43 days ahead of the plan projection. During this time no villager has registered a protest with the authorities, there has been no forcible demolition.” For the Secretary, the speed and efficiency with which Dawangjing has been demolished and the inhabitants moved, is like a “miracle.”

“Transforming urban villages and urbanizing rural villages always stirs up difficult issues.  Not only does it involve the villagers’ emotional ties to their native place, but the matter of compensation is often in dispute,“ said  the Cuigezhuangxiang township head Hu Zhenjian. He believes the high level of planning for the villagers’ needs and interests is causing the process to go smoothly.

Based on the total area of their previous residences, the villagers have two options in regard to compensation. Those who choose to move into the designated replacement housing receive 6500  yuan per square meter (the standard), or up to 8000 yuan per square meter. In addition, every person will receive the ability to purchase 50 square meters more in the designated housing at a rate of 4500 per square meter. Those who do not opt to move into the designated housing (choosing to buy replacement housing themselves) will receive 11,000 yuan per square meter of their previous residence.

Those villagers who sign the agreement to move within the first deadline will directly receive  45000 yuan as a reward for cooperating with the project. Those who move out before the first deadline will receive a reward of 1600 yuan per every square meter, for cooperating with urban rural unification, and 500 yuan per square meter as an reward for moving. If a villager family moves out within this time period, having a house measured at 100 square meters, calculating all of these compensation items together means they would receive more than 250,000 yuan ($39,380).

The plan makes allowances for families with financial hardships. Those whose village residence is less than 50 square meters, will receive a compensation amount calculated according to having 50 square meters. Those persons who are unmarried, 18 years or over, those over 30 who are considered in family planning as single people with the potential to get married, will be able to get compensation housing of 50 square meters or above, taking into consideration that in the future they may start a family.

For Dawangjing villagers the Cuigezhuangxiang township has prepared 1000 residential units in”turnover housing” (buildings constructed for displaced villagers, often of simple construction). Chen Xingquan and family is currently living in four rooms in Dongxinzhuang. He told this reporter happily, “this place is the closest to Dawangjing. It comes supplied with a toilet, electric water heater, it’s all here.  A 3000 yuan a month apartment, and we don’t have to pay a penny, since the government subsidizes the rent.”

On 2010-04-02, the construction site for the replacement housing development for Dawangjing, “Jingwang Jiayuan,” located in southwest Cuigezhuangxiang, was very busy.The workers were building the first stories above the ground.According to a project engineer, work is progressing smoothly. When finished, it will consist of economically priced housing, the buildings 9 to 18 stories high, complete with shops, schools, recreational and cultural facilities, a green zone, and public transportation. It is close to the China National Film Museum, the China National Railway Museum, and the Civil Aviation Museum. It is within the 5th ring transportation hub, convenient to various forms of public transportation.

Not only will the Dajingwang villagers become city dwellers living in new multi-story buildings, but they will enjoy all the safeguards of urban residents (transitioning from agricultural workers to industrial workers, with a city household registry or hukou) and will go from having property rights to shareholder rights. In the pilot project, after the village is demolished, compensation for the requisitioned land will be returned to the village collective, and the villagers will become shareholders. They will receive the right to preserve the green zone, and receive as material compensation 50,000 square meters of property on the first and second floors of the buildings in Jingwang Jiayuan to develop. Rather than receiving a one time cash payment in exchange for their property rights (to the village collective land), they will get income from developing those bottom floor properties as shareholders in the venture. In the future, dividends from the shares they own will provide a consistent source of income over the long term.

Cuigezhuangxiang township head Hu Zhenjian gave this calculation: if we take the minimum possible rent of 50,000 square meters of bottom floor properties as 2 yuan per square meter per day, this would still yield a yearly income of 36,000,000 yuan. Shared equally among 2000 villagers, this comes to an income of 18,000 yuan a year ($2, 835). In fact, the current actual rent amount of land in the area around Dajingwang is just exactly that –2 yuan.

In putting up 50 square meters of land per displaced villager to be used for business, the Cuigezhuangxiang  plan is to provide employment opportunities for the villagers over time, as these businesses are developed on the township level (with abundant capital) and generate employment opportunities for the villagers. “Housing is provided by building the designated housing, for workers there will be wages, and in addition the villagers will receive dividends as shareholders from both the village level and the township level. The peasants, who by themselves lack competitive power, will be protected by all these safeguards.” said Hu Zhenjian.

The Jingwang Jiayuan building site is bustling with activity, and the villagers are excited. “After many years Dawangjing will at last be part of the city.”

Editor Yan Lu.

konjaku: A part of the pilot project plan is that villagers are supposed to have more control over (and responsibility for) economic development on the land where the village once stood. However, development takes capital and resources. Activity on the village level will always take second place to the township level and above, as administrative responses to the macro plans issuing from Beijing city. Thus Hu Zhenjian says, “The peasants, who by themselves lack competitive power, will be protected by all these safeguards.” Yet the safeguards are dependent on the premise of continually expanding economic development. When the peasants were building non-conforming buildings to rent to migrants, they were active, self-sustaining economic agents. In the new city, they lack “competitive power” and perhaps are in danger of being forced into a state of passivity.

Dawangjing 大望京

Wangjing 望京

Jingwang Jiayuan 京旺家园

Cuigezhuangxiang 崔各庄乡

bottom floor properties 底商–units on the bottom floors of large residential complexes.底,”of low value” because the upper floors are more desirable as residences. However, in these 底商 there are commercial opportunities.

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