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Tangjialing, before it becomes a park: a photo essay by Ye Hongtao 叶洪涛

June 10, 2013

A moment in time: Tangjialing before turning into a “Forest park”

2012-02-21

http://news.china.com.cn/txt/2012-02/21/content_24689538.htm

photos and essay by Ye Hongtao 叶洪涛

2012-02-21 The other day I heard the news that the village of Tangjialing, once famous throughout the entire country as the place where the “ant tribe” assembled, had now been completely demolished. It was going to be reconstructed as a park, with the name “Zhongguancun Forest Park,” to open sometime this spring. On 2-19 this reporter when to look at the site.

The vast majority of the buildings have been torn down

The village was rectangular in shape, with three main streets running north/south. At one time there were over 50,000 people living in it. Demolition was formally begun 2010-06.

The village is now no longer recognizable. Standing here, it is hard to imagine it was once a lively and bustling place. At the village entrance, where there once was the “romantic commuter bus-stop,” nothing is left standing but the village sign. Looking around, almost all the buildings have been pulled down, nothing is left but brick fragments and rubble. The few buildings that are left are empty. From the distance, one can see right through them, making them seem desolate.

There are 22 families who have not moved out. Their water supply has been cut off for half a year now.

Amid the flattened area, there are still some one-story houses standing. This reporter went to talk with a young couple living in one of the houses. They said they were natives of the area, Because they could not come to an agreement on a compensation amount, they had not left. After the village is turned into a “forest park” they do not know where they will go. Starting in 2010-08, they and the other 22 families have bit by bit had their water cut off. They have to go to the village brigade bathroom some distance away, and fill large water bottles –it is tedious. Though they still have electricity, their t.v. and internet are cut off. The village brigade put up a blockade on their street, making it difficult to go out or come back in. It also makes it dangerous for the elementary school children who are still going to school at the nearby elementary school.

The young couple live in a fairly typical one story house with compound. According to the village brigade compensation standard, if they once consented to move, they would receive an 82 square meter new residence. They consider this insufficient. They said they would move if the compensation was set to the national standard, not the village brigade standard. Then they would receive a new residence of sufficient size and some money to renovate.

Soon afterwards this reporter met an old man whose house has already been torn down. He and his family were living in a rental nearby and waiting to move into their new residence, probably in the 5th month of this year When asked why he consented to move, he said he had no choice, there was no other solution.

While walking around the ruins of the village, this reporter came upon a young couple who had come there on purpose to have a barbecue. They said they were natives who had grown up here from childhood, had both gone to the elementary school next to the village. Now they lived elsewhere, but because it was the weekend they came back here to relax, barbecue, and recall the flavors of the past.

There was also an older man flying a kite. The man said he had no particular connection to Tangjialing, he was simply taking advantage of the empty space to fly his kite.

Once this area becomes a forest park, more and more people may come to fly kites, but how many will remember what happened here, what used to be here? It is like the kite the older man is flying –something that flies very high, goes off very far, then suddenly the string snaps, and one can never recover it. (Ye Hongtao)

1.The sign at the entrance of Tangjialing. (Click on photos for original size)

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2. This is one of the few remaining buildings near the village entrance. The wall was whitewashed and painted with a slogan: “ we all with one mind will build together a new home”

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3. Most of the buildings have been torn down. All that is left is smashed tile and brick

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4. This is one of the few buildings that has not been completely demolished. From the sign outside, it appears to have been an internet café. See https://konjaku.wordpress.com/2013/04/08/tangjialing-voices/ Now it is nothing but a memory.

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5. A Tanjialing public bathroom, not yet completely demolished.

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6. A compound inside which some people are still living, having refused to vacate. This includes the young couple mentioned above.

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7. Tangjialing Elementary School. The school is still operating. According to the young couple this reporter interviewed, for the students, transportation is inconvenient, and they have to pass through an unsafe area.

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8. This is a road intersection where the village brigade piled up stones and dirt to make it impassible.

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9. This is the cart that those resisters who still live here use to haul water.

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10. A banner with the slogan: “ Waving hands in farewell, we temporarily take leave of Tangjialing. We will meet again in our new home, and have familiar chats together.”

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11. The man who came to fly a kite, because of all the empty space.

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