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Tangjialing reborn

March 20, 2013

konjaku: an article in the previous post had this: “In 2009, Haidian took the lead in urban transformation with the Beiwu project, and achieved a significant result. With this as a basis, Haidian started to transform 20 focal point villages. In 2012 Tangjialing, Bajia, Houying, Zhongwu, Zhenxing, Mentou, and Liulang were fundamentally transformed, with all inhabitants moved. The Haidian urbanization process is going in leaps and bounds…”

The first village mentioned, Tangjialing, was briefly well known, the subject of articles in the media in 2010, because a large number of college graduates flocked there, renting rooms and looking for work in the high tech companies close by. These college students, nicknamed the “ant tribe,” were novel because even though highly educated, they were, at least temporarily, living the same sort of lives as migrant workers.

Shortly after this attention, the plan to demolish Tangjialing and move the residents was announced. In 2 years, the process was completed. In this and the next few posts, I will follow up on Tangjialing today and its transformation. The first article is a portrait of an elderly woman who enjoys life in the new residential complex, much like these articles about other transformed villages:

There has been little treatment as to how convenient these new complexes are for people not yet at retirement age. The article that follows takes up one angle of that.

The remaking of Tangjialing, a Beijing urban village, is complete. The villagers, following demolition and removal, are divided among seven buildings


Jingbao net reporter Wang Haiyan

Since old Yan Shumin moved from a spare and economical building to this new city district, her life has become easy and comfortable, photo Wang Haiyan

“Come, come look at my house!” Yesterday, when this reporter went to see the new residential quarter at Tangjialing, 64 year old Yan Shumin enthusiastically invited him.

We took the elevator to the 10th floor. Entering the living room, it was open, light and spacious. There was a sofa, a tea table, a modular cabinet, all brand new. Hanging on the wall was the character “blessing.” There were three bedrooms, two facing south, one facing north. The kitchen and bathroom had gleaming white porcelain, neat and tidy.

“The apartment is 123 square meters,  running north-south, living in it is a joy!” Yan Shumin showed this reporter every room, her face lit with smiles.

Looking out of Yan Shumin’s bay window, this reporter counted 18 similar multi-story buildings within the residential complex, all the same in appearance and height, with dark grey exterior walls, simple and elegant. Between the buildings were green spaces with Chinese pines, locust trees, parasol trees, and ginkgos, the branches and leaves thick and green.

This in no way resembled a village, it was like a top grade city district. Sighing with emotion, Yan Shumin said, This is no different from being in the city!

Two years ago, Yan Shumin did not feel this way. At that time, in the old village, she lived in a spare and economical building. As a matter of fact, it was a non-conforming building they had put up themselves. Everyone added on to their house, and rented out to migrants. At its peak, the village had 60,000 migrant workers. and non-conforming buildings bloomed like flowers, some with two or three stories, some with four or five stories,  and some as many as seven.

The village water, electricity and roads could not bear the demand from the new influx of people. “There was garbage everywhere. On rainy days, wastewater flowed across the ground. One had to put on boots just to go outside.”

In 2010, Beijing started the project to transform 50 “focal point” villages, and Tangjialing was one of them. The more than 3000 villagers were to move out of the village into new living quarters. In the space of just two years, 18 tall buildings rose from the ground, at a site to the north of the village. Besides the residential buildings, the new district had an elementary and middle school, a kindergarden, bank, nursing home, supermarket, public service center, etc. Starting in 2012 6th month, the villagers began moving in.

“Since the area of our old village homestead was large, in compensation we received seven apartments in the new facility”. Yan Shumin’s face lit up with joy. “I and my husband live in one, our two children with their families each have their own. We have more than we need. A few days ago, someone from the housing administration came, and said we needed to register the left over apartments, in order for them to become public rentals, and we registered two.”

As for the future of Tangjialing villagers, renting unneeded apartments will not be their only source of income. “Can you see that patch of vacant land to the north?” From her living room north window, Yan Shumin pointed it out. “That is designated as multi-use land for the village, for commercial enterprises. They say they will break ground soon.”

On this vacant land, in the not so distant future the plan is to build 10,000 square meters of rental housing and business enterprises. “I heard the village cadre say, income from these rentals will be converted to stock shares, and divided among all the villagers.”

Since moving here, another thing Yan Shumin likes to do is stroll in the park, located to the south of the residences. She can see it from her window, green and luxuriant. Framed by the blue sky and white clouds, it makes one feel carefree and happy.

“Let me take you for a look around!” With Yan Shumin leading the way, we went out the residential complex north gate, and walking south for about 10 minutes we came to the park. On the undulating slopes were many varieties of trees, and chrysanthemums. Other residents were strolling on the path composed of bluestone, in groups of two and three. “This park is called Zhongguancun Forest Park. It covers over the site of our old village. I usually come here every day and stroll around. I love the scenery here!”

Just like Yan Shumin, the other 3000 villagers of Tangjialing are in the process of moving into this new city district. They will now live the life of city-dwellers. The old days of the dirty and disorderly village are over,  completely transformed into a new city district that has sprung up in northern Haidian, history made over. Tangjialing, reborn!


Before Tangjialing  was rebuilt public transportation in the area withdrew, and it has not yet returned


From the 6th month of this year [2012], more than 3000 villagers from the former Tangjialing have started moving gradually into the replacement housing at the northwest corner of the former village site. While the residences are spacious, and the living environment better,  the surrounding roads are not served by public transportation. When the village was about to be transformed, the public transportations routes were not adjusted to the new conditions, therefore the villagers in their new residences have to go far to find a public transportation route.

“For my daughter to get to work at the Beijing World Trade Center, her father has to drive her to the Xi’erqi subway station, a distance of just under 5 kilometers–otherwise she would need to ride a bicycle, but it’s a 20 minute bike ride.” Mrs Liu and her family moved to the new housing in the 9th month. The road out to the replacement housing is somewhat remote and out of the way, it would not be safe for her daughter to bicycle home alone at night. Her husband has to go and pick her up at the station in the evening. As another recent resident Ms Yu said, although many residents have their own cars, being without public transportation is a big problem. Several residents said that for old people to go to the hospital. or even to go out and buy a few things, the lack of public transportation is a real inconvenience.

Before Tangjialing was rebuilt, there were five transportation lines serving it. Because public transportation was convenient, the “ant tribe” wanted to rent there.

A person of responsibility in Public Transportation said, they try to follow the subway lines with linking bus lines, and ensure that the transportation system changes to accomodate new city districts. However, in the case of the Tangjialing new residential district, at present they have no choice. There is not even one road in the area that meets public transportation standards, therefore any development of public transportation has temporarily been shelved. He said if the district repairs just one road, Public Transportation will made it a priority to consider putting in a bus line.

Yesterday this reporter wen to investigate the state of the roads. There are two roads running e/w in the center of the Tangjialing new district. These are barely wide enough for one small car, and those using this road were riding bicycles. On the south side, there was a a road wide enough for two cars to pass each other, but not big enough for a bus.

On the north side there is a road wide enough for two cars to pass. In the future it will be a main road linking to the expressway on one side and to Yongfeng Road on the other, but for now it is just a “village road” unable to support bus traffic.

This reporter discovered that the closest three bus stops are each some 2 kilometers away, about a half hour walk. Villager Tang Lanxiang proposes that if one of the existing bus routes makes a southern detour near Tangjialing, this would solve the problem. But a transportation official said that making minor changes throws the whole transportation system out of balance. It would require a new round of investigation and research, as much as establishing a new bus line.

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