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Dawangjing follow-up 9: it all depends on business development

October 4, 2012

2012-06-05 Dawangjing villagers move into their new housing in Jingwang Jiayuan

Source Xinjingbao (The Beijing News) 2012-06-08

Reporter Li Fei

2012-06-01 early in the morning Jingwang Jiayuan resident, 66 year old Wang Jiasheng, prepares to go out, gathering flutes, clappers, and suona (a wind instrument). He is going to Wangjing Park, site of the former Dawangjing village.

Wang Jiasheng is a locally born and bred Dawangjing villager, In the 5th month of last year, he moved here to Jingwang Jiayuan, the designated housing for Dawangjing villagers, and with his neighbors formed a “people’s orchestra.” Every time he goes there, he takes a long and careful look at the old pagoda tree of the village. Dawangjing village has disappeared, only this tree, several hundred years old, remains.

Dawangjing village old tree

During the time he lived in the village, Wang Jiasheng depended on renting rooms to migrant workers. He had a house and compound of some 300 square meters, with 16 rooms lined up  from front to back along all four sides. He and his two daughters and family, 8 people altogether, lived in 10 rooms. The other 6 rooms they rented out, for 300 yuan a month per room. This was the main income for him and his wife.

Last year on 05-09, Jingwang Jiayuan opened. Three days later,  Wang Jiasheng moved into his new house there. What made him happy was that in the building he moved into were all his neighbors from Dawangjing.

After the village demolition, Wang Jiasheng  received five residences in Jingwang Jiayuan, one for him, one for each of his two daughters. This left two residences which he could rent for five or six thousand yuan a month. They are 78 square meters with bathroom attached.

Wang Jiasheng’s house and compound was of  medium size. Nevertheless, he was eligible for 4 million yuan as the compensation fund. According to the formula, “for each person 50 square meters, at 4500 yuan per square meter,” with eight people in his family he was eligible for five residences, and besides that another million yuan in compensation. The money was distributed in advance, before he and his family moved. Before Wang Jiasheng said, “even though life in the village was tough, because we had land we had security. Giving up the land was like giving one’s life.” Now he decided, “Even though we have no land, we have the possibility of employment, we have social security, shareholders’ rights. Equal to all of these is our residences. Money gets spent, or might depreciate in value, therefore we need those residences!”

Wang Aige is a social worker on the neighborhood committee. She said, at the time villagers received their compensation funds, they were quite restless and unsettled. They bought luxury cars, etc.  But once they moved, this sense of restlessness dissipated. Some went back to their old jobs, some found temporary work, and all began to live more practically.

Everyday someone asked Wang Aige to act as a matchmaker. “There were young men, young women, who just wanted to find someone from the village whose house had been demolished, because that person would have a car, a residence, a large bank account. In one fell swoop they had gotten everything.”

Wang Jiasheng sighed with emotion. At the time when he was choosing son-in-laws for his daughters, the popular saying was, “Shunyi daughters look toward Chaoyang, Chaoyang daughters look toward the city walls, first choice is a military man, second a cadre, third a worker, but never marry an old peasant.” At that time Dawangjing villagers qualified as  “old peasants.” Now, after he has moved, Wang Jiasheng can find for himself the Beijing residents sense of honor and pride.

Kang Jie feels a different type of emotion. In the two years of demolition and moving, close to 30 old people have died. Some because it was difficult to leave their native place, some because of the disputes that arose with their sons and daughters, “ They had a lot of money, but it did not turn out well.”

The villagers have the five types of social insurance, but social security expenses thus far have been coming from the money the government made requisitioning the village land, the same fund being used to resettle the villagers. In the long term, the Dawangjing villagers need to development business enterprises that become self-sustaining, in order to have an on-going flow of capital that will pay out the costs of their social insurance.

Wang Jiasheng said,  “The reason our people’s orchestra likes to play in Wangjing Park, is not only because for all of us this is our old homeland, which we cannot do without.  It is also because in the near future this will be the Dawangjing business zone, with 50,000 square meters of bottom floor properties. This the village will develop, and we, as shareholders, will be able to draw dividends.”

Although their quality of life has caught up with city dwellers, Wang Jiasheng still wonders, “when the compensation fund is completely spent, what will our children do?” He pins his hopes in the on-going reform of the collective economy system, in which, for the villagers, property rights (their village land) is transformed into shareholder rights (the business developments run by the village collective).

The next year after the village demolition, one parcel of Dawangjing village land, area #1, was auctioned off at 27,500 yuan per square meter, a kingly price. Wang Jiasheng believes that this is a sign of a stable, steady income in the future.

The Cuigezhuangxiang director of property rights Cui Quisheng said, at present the process of dividing the collective property rights of the village into individual sections is underway. First, it is necessary to examine and calculate the total property held by the village. Then, starting from the 1950s on, the amount of collective labor contributed by each member of the village community will be calculated. The amount of shares will be according to the number of years of labor contributed. Dawangjing village has already formed a shareholders cooperative, and is proceeding with these calculations.As for how much money the villagers will receive as dividends, this will be determined by how well the business developments do.

According to National Political Administration College professor Zhu Lijia, the urban rural unification pilot project in Dawangjing epitomizes something happening across the whole country. Other developed nations have gone through this stage. Among them there have been more than a few failures, evidence of which is the appearance of slums.

In comparison to other places in which demolitions by force have frequently been resorted to, Dawangjing is off to a good start. The demolition was done with the agreement of the villagers, and though they lost their land they have new residences, employment, and social security. He said, however, that whether the villagers have the strength to successfully develop their business ventures, whether they can adjust to operating in a market economy and have the ability to overcome the risks involved, whether they can truly transform from villagers to city residents, still remains to be seen.

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