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Village #12 Zhengxing shequ

konjaku: Village # 12 in the Haidian district is Zhenxing shequ. Shequ ( literally, “community”) here replaces the designation of village. Since this is not about shequ as such, I continue to use the term village, for convenience.

I was only able to find the following article, which is not about the village (or shequ) as a whole, but about the problems of negotiating compensation experienced by businesses that have rented land in the villages slated for redevelopment. Usually the focus in demolishing a village is on the relocation and compensation of the village residents, not the businesses that just happen to be in the village because they have leased some land and built a factory or a production center.

In urban renovation on this scale, involving fifty villages, possibly it is just not feasible to completely compensate every business for all moving costs, loss of facilities, and the suspension of doing business while they relocate. But this article assumes it is possible and takes the position that it is the government’s responsibility. It criticizes “village autonomy,” which, as we have seen, was a major part of the Beiwu model, as a way that villagers could be assured of a say in the process, and receive a share of the profits from future development on village land. While that seems a good thing for village residents, the implications to all parties involved is unclear. To start with, it is not clear to anyone how much autonomy there is or should be in “village autonomy.”

The renovation projects are going faster than the determination of laws or rules to govern the process. But if you are transforming large sections of society in one fell swoop from one situation (village life) to a completely different one ( multi-story complexes surrounded by a green zone) could any set of laws or regulations cover every eventuality of the transition?

Village redevelopment in the Beijing suburbs: “Village autonomy” is driving out lessees
–Law specialists say a public hearing process is needed


photo: The Zhengxing village committee headquarters in 2008 (pre-demolition, photo by Zhongguancun)


This reporter went to the listed up villages project office, and discovered that because of disputes over compensation rates between the village government and the businesses which have rented land from the villages operating within the redevelopment project zone, some villages governments are, under the pretext of exercising “village autonomy,” forcibly driving out tenants.

In recent years our country has energetically expanded the project of transforming old villages. However, land requisition has increasingly triggered more and more contradictions and clashes. In some places the manner of requisitioning land goes against regulations, and violates the rights of villagers and businesses which are renting the land. This leads to appeals to higher authorities, and other sorts of incidents. According to many specialists interviewed by this reporter, the process of requisitioning land in our country lacks an adequate public hearing process. In determining compensation rates, there should be an independent scientific evaluation as part of the process, and after disputes arise, the aggrieved parties lack a communication channel in the government to appeal to for justice. Thus it is extremely easy for conflicts to arise. Gradually these lacks in the system must be filled in, to protect the interests of all those involved.

Beginning in 2010, Beijing city announced the tranformation of 50 “listed-up villages,” and one of these was Zhenxing shequ in Shijiqing town in Haidian district. In the 6th month of that year, the Zhenxing village committee issued a notice informing all businesses in the affected area that they had to move out by the end of the 9th month. At the beginning of 2011, the village committee posted a notice describing the area to be demolished, and demanding that all village households within the affected area sign contracts agreeing to relocate and assenting to the compensation amount. But the announcement said nothing about the businesses and what sort of compensation they might expect.

The Shiji Tianyuan Food Corporation is a family-owned business. They signed a lease with the village corporation for a one-acre site for 30 years. The lease expires in 2026. After signing the lease, the Shiji tanyuan Food Corporation used its own capital to build a factory. After receiving the demolition notice, they stopped taking orders, and began to negotiate the compensation details, as well as preparing to move. But what the company head Ren Changru could not imagine, was that the village representative would only offer to return a few years of rent, plus moving expenses of 600,000 yuan. Ren Changru calculated the loss to his business from moving to be 15 to 20 million yuan. After negotiations through mediators, the village offered 3 million yuan, and said it couldn’t go any higher.

In the 50 listed-up villages, the land occupied by homesteads is 12 square kilometers, but that occupied by businesses –township and village enterprises — is 13 square kilometers.


Ren Changru did not accept the village compensation proposal, and now the negotiations are at a standstill, having been referred to a higher authority. Meanwhile, the Zhenxing redevelopment project is moving along vigorously. New multi-story buildings are sprouting out of the ground, and the villagers are giving up their homes and waiting to move in to these new buildings.

Ren Changru does not understand why the government doesn’t have a unified, consistent compensation standard, announced publicly for all to see. Instead, Zhenxing shequ repeatedly says this is a matter of village autonomy, “and whatever the village decides is what you get.” It is clear to him that negotiating with the village is not going anywhere, after many attempts.

The law on village autonomy stipulates that villagers have the authority to determine their own interests, including compensation. Told this, Ren Changru says there is a still a problem with Zhenxing’s actions, because they have not publicly announced anything whatever about how they are deciding on compensations, whether they have actually had an assembly to discuss these issues, what their guidelines are, and what evidence or testimony they consider in making determinations.

The other day a reporter interviewed the Zhenxing Redevelopment Project deputy, to get the village committee’s side of the dispute. The deputy said, at present there is definitely not any such unified compensation standard, but that a “higher authority” (indicating the Shijiqing town urban transformation project corporation), had transmitted the general sentiment that “the one responsible for the child is the parent” (taking the buildings and assets as the child, it is the business that built them that is responsible for them, not the village), and that they should literally reimburse businesses for the total amount of payments the business had made in the past to the village, and no more. To follow this guideline, Zhenxing shequ put out bids to hire an independent assessor, and plans to give the assessment corporation the responsibility to estimate the amount of the compensation payment.

As this reporter has come to find out, having talks with lessees to requisition their land back, in the name of village autonomy, is just another complication in an already complicated process, and leads to disputes almost every time.

To get a response on the Zhenxing shequ position, this reporter interviewed a lawyer who is a specialist in this area, and he said that the disagreement between the Shiji Tianyuan Food Corporation and Zhenxing shequ was essentially a contract dispute, and Zhenxing was trying to confuse the issue by taking it as a matter of compensation determined by the stipulations of the redevelopment project. The issue in this: when the contract is in force, and one side wants to terminate it prematurely, what are its obligations? If the contract is not a comprehensive document, if there is nothing in the contract about what to do in case of a demolition and relocation project, then one must look at the basic principles of contract law to determine both sides’ duties and obligations.

The lawyer, Li Yan said, “To put it very simply, if you rent land to me, and I build a building on that land to produce goods or operate a business; and if, before the lease has expired, you want to dissolve the contract, you should compensate me for the loss of the building, for any facilities added to the building, for equipment, etc,. But these forms of compensation have nothing to with compensation as determined in the redevelopment project, but are solely concerned with the losses experienced by the lessee because of a premature termination of the contract.”

Li Yan believes that the fact that Zhenxing shequ is using “village autonomy” as a reason to force the businesses to move, is a sign that possibly the government has not issued permission to demolish the buildings. In this listed-up villages project, there are no exact legal stipulations that cover the demolishing and relocation process. Therefore, in the past authorities at the grassroots level have sought out interrelated businesses and negotiated a compensation amount with these businesses that are within the redevelopment zone together. In such cases, the vast majority comply voluntarily. If Zhenxing shequ wants its businesses to move away, it should offer them a rationally acceptable compensation rate.

According to another lawyer, Wang Yong, in general, the compensation paid to businesses is far higher than that paid to residents, because they are reimbursed for their investment in buildings and equipment on the property. Therefore, for Zhenxing shequ to claim, “the one responsible for the child is the parent,” is to go against the law. They should follow their duty and pay back any remaining sums under the contract and a reasonable compensation.To do anything less is not equitable, and not within the spirit of the original contract.

Li Yan said the Shiji Tianyuan Food Corporation has the option to take Zhenxing shequ to court for breach of contract. Many other law specialists contacted by this reporter said, our county lacks a public hearing procedure that should be part of the process of requisitioning land. In compensation negotiations, there should be an independent and scientific means of evaluating claims. When disputes arise, peasants and businesses do not have an agency in the government to appeal to, and lack a way for the administration of justice to operate.

listed up villages 挂账村
Zhenxing 振兴
shequ 社区
village and township enterprises乡镇企业

Village # 11: Zhongwu

konjaku: Zhongwu in the Haidian district is very close to Beiwu, which is one of two villages in the pilot project which led to the renovation of the 50 villages. It is similar in situation, and in geography. As in Beiwu, the villagers have found that they must rent rooms to migrants because the government has already rented out most of the village land, and there are no other sources of income. Although Zhongwu villagers are apparently also getting a satisfactory compensation, and moving to newly-built housing near the village site, they are, as in Beiwu, worried about how they will live in the future, and unsure whether they will be allowed to transfer to an urban household registry, which would make them eligible for better social security and other benefits. Also, because the villages are both along the road which leads to the Summer Palace and other resort spots, their existence draws notice.

“Because the motorcades of the high-level leaders pass by Beiwu [on the way to the Summer Palace]…anything which is dirty and disorderly along this road draws high level attention. Therefore the renovation of Beiwu was classified as a project focal point.”

The Beiwu village site after demolition. The pagoda on Jade Spring Hill is in the distance. (photo by “Zhongguancun”)


Zhongwu Park, built on the demolished Zhongwu village site. Jade Spring Hill on the horizon.


Zhongwu village before demolition (photos by “Zhongguancun”):




A wall at Zhongwu village advertising the creation of the green zone in Haidian (photo by “Zhongguancun”)



The article giving the fundamental details about Beiwu and the urban-rural unification plan, first published in Caixin magazine, is here:

Thirteen follow-up posts on Beiwu can be accessed by clicking on July 2012 and August 2012 in Archives.

Quotes from the Caixin article:

“The Beiwu model is the plan we cannot help but select” — “We ourselves move out of our homes, we ourselves then build the new buildings, manage, and control the capital fund.” The villagers through their collectively held land participate in the urbanization process.

According to the plan, the majority of the original Beiwu village was to be turned into Beiwu Park. Opposite the park, the new housing units would be built for the dislocated villagers, with water and gas lines installed. Four roads would circle the periphery of the development. Once the buildings were completed, a pre-school, medical service center, and a supermarket would be constructed.
It happened very quickly. In March (2010), the 700 households of Beiwu village moved to the Beiwu Jiayuan (“Beiwu Excellent Garden”), a development of just- completed six-story housing complexes.”

Zhongwu 中坞
Beiwu 北坞

I found no accounts of the events surrounding the demolition of Zhongwu village and relocation of the villagers. The following article goes into some depth on the Zhongwu situation before the demolition has begun. It expresses some tension with the “Beiwu model” of giving the villagers autonomy and shareholder rights over profits from developments built on their land.
Reporter Han Xue


In the beginning of the third month, the news came from the government of Beijing’s Haidian district that twenty villages within the urban-rural unification zone would be demolished and transformed in 2010. This will directly influence 29,000 residents and 210,000 migrants. Within two or three years, all the illegal buildings in the villages around Zhongguocun will disappear, to be replaced by orderly multi-storied buildings and areas of green space, all done according to plan. One such project, the Beiwu village experiment, which moved out the residents and transformed the urban-rural zone, has in recent years received a lot of attention from the public and the media.

The Haidian government states that in transforming the 20 villages they will draw lessons from the Beiwu experience, according to the policy of “the government leads, but the farmers are the main part” [farmers given some autonomy], which will form a new principle of moving forward. However, they will not indiscriminately copy the Beiwu plan, but on the basis of the specific situation of each village, will take a “one village, one policy” approach. Does the “Beiwu model” realistically resolve the fundamental difficulties of urban-rural unification, or does it magnify the many contradictions? Can it extend universally to every possible case? As the “house purchase price” becomes an issue foremost in people’s minds, it is natural that Zhongwu, because it is less than one hundred meters away from Beiwu, will bear particularly intense scrutiny.

“This is will be a civilized demolition and relocation”

“The Beiwu operation went quite well. Before they began the demolition of the village, the city government broke ground on construction of the replacement housing, forty-two six-story buildings complete with elevators, calming the fears of the villagers. At the same time they let the villagers themselves manage and supervise the process, which was a step forward to a civilized demolition and relocation.” Sixty-six year-old Mr Zhang (alias), a Zhongwu villager said, “The provincialism of people here is very strong. It is very difficult for them to part from their native land. The Beiwu experiment was an effort to preserve social harmony and stability. Although Beiwu and Zhongwu are different, I hope the outcome will be like Beiwu, a civilized process without violence.”

Since Mr Zhang said Beiwu and Zhingwu were different, this reporter went to investigate. Although the schedule for demolition of the village and relocation of the residents had been publicly released several years ago, posters with slogans encouraging the visitors to sign contracts had not yet been put up anywhere. Although villagers had done some additional building in their household compounds to add to their overall surface area to get a higher compensation amount, there were very few two-story structures in the village. This is a big difference from Beiwu.

The Zhongwu compensation standard is a 1:1 exchange of surface area from the original household compound to the new replacement housing. If villagers added on to their living space above a second story, this will not count in the exchange. However, they can receive between 3000-4000 yuan per square meter, to compensate them for their labor and building materials. “And, compared to the past, the villagers are well satisfied with the compensation process, because in the past the government sent staff members to measure the surface area, inspect. register, and what not, and the requirements were excessive.”

The Zhongwu replacement housing will be built right next to Beiwu’s [Beiwu Jiayuan]. While there are 42 buildings in the Beiwu Jiayuan complex, the local government plans to build as many as 100 more buildings to accommodate residents from Zhongwu and other nearby villages. Seeing this reporter, a number of older Zhongwu residents surrounded him, saying, “Because the two villages are so close, many of have relatives in Beiwu, and we have gone to visit them in their new residences. The one problem is that the buildings are built too close together, influencing how much light comes through the windows, but other than that everything is pretty good.”

Even so, the Zhongwu villagers in the end still have doubts. Mr Zhang said, the South-North Water Diversion Project, a major national project that will build a huge reservoir here to supply water to all of Beijing, may have priority in this area. Because the villagers have not seen the formal plan, they are unsure what will happen. There are many other things which cause them to have doubts. For example, what assurance is there that every household will get a fair allotment based on surface area, when some might try and take unfair advantage? Will the residents get full property rights (“large property rights”), enabling them to sell their residence if they choose to? Once they move, will they be allowed to transition from a peasant household registry to an urban registery (hukou)? What kind of life will they have after “moving up” to life in a tall building? Will they receive social security and other benefits for the elderly?

Because of the uncertainty, there are many rumors. “The government cannot only think of the pending demolition and relocation, but also about what we should do after we move.” The plan details should be completely filled in, including exactly what benefits the villagers will receive in the future, and information about the social safeguards they will be eligible for should be made completely transparent. At present this is what the villagers are constantly thinking about.

“We should give our support to national policy initiatives, such as urban-rural unification, the Beijing Water Project, and the transformation of urban villages. But in our hearts we are peasants — if we have a choice, we do not want to give up our land. Without land, how will our children and grandchildren eat and make a living?” This is what the older generation says.

In reality, tillable land around Beiwu or Zhongwu disappeared long ago. What the villagers have is what few plots have been passed down directly from previous generations, and the land that makes up their household compounds. Although stipulations are that every family is allotted a household compound of 120 square meters, as the population of permanent residents has increased Yuquancun (the administrative authority over the village) has divided the plots to accommodate the increase, and consequently the size of these has shrunk. There are many who, at twenty or almost thirty years, have not yet been apportioned a house or land. When they want to get married and start a family, they first must call on the village committee [to be given a place to live].

Yuquancun is the administrative authority over Beiwu, Zhongwu, Xiaotun, Minzhuang, and other local villages, eight in all, in turn controlled by Shijiqing town. Despite whatever authority the village head of Zhongwu might have, Yuquancun has rented out almost all the good land that belongs to the village. Mr Zhuang said, “This land runs along Minzhuang Road, which is the only route for Beijingers to use to get to Xiangshan [Fragrant Hills Park]. It is busy with traffic all the time. The sides of Minzhuang Road are lined with businesses, especially with car dealerships, making this a major place for people from Beijing to come to buy automobiles. The rent from these businesses all goes to a corporation run by the administrative district. The land belonging to the village collective is rented out, and the villagers, as members of the collective, say they have not seen a penny of the dividends. Perhaps they do not know to whom to address their demands as members of the collective, to receive some material benefit. The reason this situation exists is because they are under a system of authority in which Shijiqing town occupies the highest level.

In 1958, Shijiqing town set up a system of administrative ownership of the land, as part of the national communist effort to advance agricultural techniques under a system of collective agriculture, run from the top down. While this national system changed after the reform and opening up period [starting in 1978] Shijiqing did not carry out these reforms. The administrative village level (Yuquancun) and the village committee had no authority whatsoever over village land policy — the full authority and management decisions lay entirely with the Shijiqing town government, and they had no need to inform the village committee of their decisions. Therefore, the villagers never acquired a consciousness of the land as being fundamentally under the collective ownership of the villages. They do not know who is in charge, and have no idea how to find out.

According to villagers, under the Shijiqing government authority, the village committee was required to make every adult villager do jobs in a labor force. “The reality was, if you were dissatisfied about the work, the town government just ignored you.” In other words, between the ages of 20 and 60 when they could be called up to work anytime, for all that forty years, the villagers in the labor force got no subsidy from the government at all.

In Zhongwu today, 80 percent of those who have worked in the labor force have received no compensation. “ In Zhongwu, do you know what those who staff the public security booth get? 60 yuan a month.” “There’s no land to plant, no subsidy, no income, the only way to make a living is to rent out rooms in one’s house. If there was anything better, no one would be willing to rent out rooms in their home to ten or more complete strangers.”
Dr Li, whose ancestors lived in Zhongwu, said, “They say in the future we will ‘move up’ to better living conditions, but our means of livelihood are all cut off. If we are in the city but still in the agricultural household registry, our social security, medical insurance, and elderly assistance will all be less, we’ll be under a double standard. The rate of reimbursement for medical expenses is lower for peasant households than urban residents, and more restricted. If one needs help living with a serious illness, the wait for assistance is three years.At present in the village those over 60 receive an old-age pension that does not exceed 600 yuan a month. This is less than one half the standard for Beijing city residents. When we move, we’ll be faced with higher costs in monthly building maintenance fees and heating. How will we live?”

When this reporter asked the villagers what the government’s position on collectively owned land was, whether the villages after relocating would share in any profits generated by the use of village land as shareholders, and whether they had plans to manage the assets and return those profits to the village collective as a whole, the villagers said this was very difficult to determine. In the past all profits generated from the village had been turned over to the Shijiqing town financial administration, and no share had ever come to the villagers.

Mr Zhang said, “The plan calls for building restaurants –that’s good. For building public housing for migrant workers –that’s good. But will any of the revenue get to the villagers?” There are no documents in the plan spelling this out.

Although Beiwu also planned to construct public housing for migrants, so far this has been not worked out. The problem is that building rental housing on village collective land solely for profit, will necessarily expose these properties to the fluctuations of the market, which is strictly forbidden, as a national policy.

People’s Congress Representative Xu Zhiyong said that if the village collective is given sole authority over construction on village land, without any government investment in the construction, the village organization is not necessarily willing to invest in this kind of rental housing for migrants. In Beiwu, the village was given leadership over the construction, and their total investment was 900 million yuan ($137 million). Except for some government subsidies and loans, the sole source of Beiwu’s capital is one parcel of land which is open for development. Beiwu and Zhongwu are both close to the Summer Palace and Jade Spring Hill, their land is as the saying goes, “an inch of land that equals an inch of gold.” They are also close to the Yuquan Huigu office building complex, where the rent is currently 3 yuan per square meter per day, or 9000 yuan per 100 square meters a month. It is clear that for the village corporation, constructing office buildings or industrial parks would generate more profits than low-income housing. However, they may be boxed in by the plan prescribed to them by the government, and be unable to act in a way that generates the most profits for them, no matter how firmly they try to grasp onto the promises of self-determination.

konjaku: some of the details in this article were hard for me to follow. It seems like the Beiwu model, giving villagers autonomy over development on village land, carries with it certain “contradictions.” The legal status of the village land after the demise of the village is not clearly defined, in part because the different interests of the involved parties could not be fully reconciled. The government wants a return on its investment for paying out compensation and other expenses; it also wants profits from the development to supplement other expenses. The villagers, insecure about their livelihoods, want profits from the development of the land, but they do not want to assume all the risk in case ventures fail. For instance, if the village collective corporation opens a high-end restaurant, and that business fails, how are they to assume the loss? In addition, there seems to be a framework of legal restrictions that do not fit the circumstances here, but which are not easy to change. The villagers cannot legally become individual capitalist-style actors in the market, and the government is still pledged to build a certain amount of low-income housing, an obligation it seems willing to foist upon the villagers in the name of “village autonomy,” and “one village one policy.”

The Yuquan Huigu office building complex (photo by “Zhongguancun”):



South-North Water Diversion Project 南水北调国家重点工程

Shijiqing town 四季青镇
large property rights 大产权
moving up 上楼

konjaku: Now, in 2017, we see the park, brand new, built on the former Zhongwu village site. According to the blogger, the villagers moved into Beiwu Jiayuan, not into new housing built specifically for them.

Zhongwu Park
from a blog:




Zhongwu Park is so new it doesn’t appear on the map yet.

This rural park is a wonderful addition to the Three Mountains Five Imperial Gardens area. Zhongwu refers to the former Zhongwu village. The villagers have all moved to Beiwu Jiayuan. Where the village once stood this park was built, and the villagers can get jobs here planting trees, fields of canola flowers, and paddy rice: plants which evoke the old village life.

There are many parks in this area. I went to Beiwu Park and Yudong Park, but had never heard of Zhongwu. Fortunately a friend told me about it, but I had no idea how to get there, because it wasn’t on the map. On asking around, I was told it was just south of Beiwu Park, so that is how I got here.


City shantytown renovation: a few considerations


“Consider parents looking after their children, the sooner you move out, the sooner you will enjoy a good life”


konjaku: it remains to be seen if the effort to “relieve the population pressure” in Beijing by removing the shantytown residents to a new micro-city in the far suburbs, or even by allowing a percentage of them to remain at the transformed site in a gleaming new building, can be fully achieved.

In these accounts, it does not say if the generous compensation and designated housing is only for permanent residents, or not. In the 50 villages, there was an unbalance, in that the number of recent migrants was many times that of the original villagers. In the city shantytowns, we do not know the percentage of recent migrants, or whether, as in the villages, they are being left out of the renewal project and must simply move on. If so, as long as there is cheap housing or a dilapidated neighborhood anywhere in the center of the city, they will return, as a new tide of migrants will also drift in.

Ou Ning writes: “Absolute economic equality is merely an ideal. The real question is to what degree a city accommodates poverty and heterogeneity. Low-income communities are a crucial component of the city. They accept and accommodate the minority poor, offering breathing room and low-cost opportunities for survival. At the same time they minimize problems of identification and help diffuse potential conflicts with the city’s mainstream population. Furthermore, the smooth operation of the city depends on the migrant populations drawn to such communities to fulfill basic labor demands. For these reasons low-income neighborhoods must not be treated simply as malignant tumors that must be cut away – such an approach does not lead to the building of an ideal city, and if low- income neighborhoods are removed they will inevitably crop up elsewhere. There is always a degree of poverty in the world. This is not a fact that can be swept away by globalization or by technological advancements, because difference and multiplicity are obstinate and intrinsic qualities of our world.

Ou Ning, “Street Life in Da Zha Lan”, Regenerating Culture and Society: Architecture, Art and Urban Style within the Global Politics of City-Branding, edited by Jonathan Harris and Richard J. Williams, published by Liverpool University Press, Liverpool, 2011.

See also

These accounts of shantytown renovation also do not describe what the living situation of the residents will be like after the change. The villagers of the 50 villages who lose their land and move to “better” living conditions in a residential complex worry about having a steady income. Even if they are given generous subsidies, at some point the money may run out. The luckier ones are given an extra residential unit as their own property, to rent out for income. How about the urban residents? If they move to a vast residential development outside the city proper, what will they do? If they return to a new Guangyuanli or Wangtan composed of gleaming structures set in a modern urban high-technology park, how will they live?

The city government would not have set up a digital display board on the Guangyuanli renovation on a public street if it was not confident that a large percentage of residents would sign contracts. Although the residents were offered generous terms, the principle for compensation is the same as the villages –the size of one’s new residence is determined as a straight exchange for the surface area of one’s old residence –anything over that the resident has to pay for (even if this is partially subsidized). The villagers of the 50 villages have on average three times the living space of the shantytown resident, but the urban shantytown households are also multi-generational families. More than the villagers, the urban residents have to worry if they will end up as three generations living in a one-bedroom apartment. As we saw, the principal concern of a couple with one child, is to give their child his or her own room in which to study.

While a lot of care appears to have been taken with the larger shantytown transformation projects –Wangtan and Guanyuangli–others are stalled. The residents of West Zhongshili and Chongwai #6 are still waiting for a good outcome.



The last days of Guangyuanli

A blogger, Xuzhifeng, took photos on Guangyuanli’s “last day.”

2016-06-30, in the Guangyuanli residential district, the old and worn out buildings have already been vacated, Mr Wang Jie said, “ Tomorrow, they will begin razing everything to the ground. We lived in our home here for more than thirty years, for the last time we are looking around for anything of value we can bring away. Since I grew up here, it is a bit hard to let go.”
The barbershop owner, who had been in business here for more than ten years, said, “Tomorrow my small shop will be torn down, but at least on my last day I can still give a haircut to some of my old customers.”
An old man who was tidying up his things said, “ We welcome the improvements. But if we move back here to the same address, with a residence which is the same surface area as what we had before, in that exchange we will have a one-room apartment, which is not enough for our family. This is what city transformation comes down to.”
This is one of the biggest shantytown renovations in Beijing this year, involving more than 5600 households altogether, 2228 in Guangyuanli. Since the third month, residents have been steadily moving out and vacating their homes.




konjaku: in the following article shantytown renovation in Guangyuanli is linked to something larger: the mechanization of certain tasks in the modernizing city, making life more convenient. This example is hard to argue with.

Collecting from latrines for the last time in Guangyuanli

With a ladle in one hand, and a bucket of excrement in the other, hobbling across the detritus left after the buildings of Guangyuanli have been torn down — it is not hard to imagine how difficult a job this is


A rusted and spotted ladle, an iron bucket, a three wheeled cart to hold the collected excrement –these have been the tools of the trade, unchanged for half a century…as society changes, these too will pass into history


The squad leader teaches the pair how to use the new technology. In the future, they will drive the brand-new vacuum truck, and enjoy the high-speed efficiency and convenience of mechanization.


These two are responsible for Guangyuanli sanxiang (third alley). This long and winding alley has many curves and zig-zags. They have to pull and push the cart from side to side to get to the latrines.


As Li Jun loads excrement in the cart, the stench causes passer-by to cover his nose and hurry away. The job of hauling away excrement is one in which the one gets dirty so the myriad can be clean, but people do not always adequately appreciate this.


When after a busy day the two brothers return to their team headquarters, they rush to the bathhouse, and to their heart’s content wash away their fatigue and the filth.


With the roar of backhoes and excavators, the old and worn-out shantytown is reduced to a heap of rubble.


The two men are resigned to the fact that the old method will disappear, and be replaced by mechanization, but they can’t help feeling a little disappointed.

One ladle, two metal buckets, and a three-wheeled cart…starting with the birth of modern China, these have been the standard tools of the trade for the nightsoil collectors. After half a century, this characteristic scene in Beijing alleyways, is disappearing because of urban development, and specifically the renovation of shantytowns.

Fan Duanyong and Li Jun are two ordinary sanitation workers in Xicheng. They do not sweep the main streets, they do not collect garbage, but deal with something people are reluctant to talk about, “nightsoil.”

At dawn, the conscientious Li Jun gets their equipment ready. Fan Duanyong wipes down their “precious cart.” Then he checks the tires. This rusted and spotted cart shows its weight of years.

With one riding a bicycle, and the other pulling the cart, chatting on the way, the two set out for Sanxiang alley in Guangyuanli. The narrow and long alley is hardly wide enough for two people, and with twists and turns, one cannot see to its end. After going less than 100 meters, Li Jun stops the cart at a cleared-off spot. “The cart cannot go further, and no tube is long enough to reach the latrine, so we have to resort to our old tools, and clean it out bit by bit.”

Forcing open the door of the public toilet, a sharp smell immediately assaults their faces, but the two are unmoved. “ Heck, after all these years, we’re used to it. Putting on a face mask is embarrassing, besides, we’re just not that fussy.”

While one used the ladle to scoop out and transfer contents into the pails, the other keeps the area tidy. In a little while the buckets are full, and Li Jun carrying both buckets on a pole balanced on his shoulders, goes toward the cart. Quickly he pours the contents inside. After a number of repeated trips, the container in the cart is completely full, with up to twenty pailfuls.

Fan Duanyong said, “In Guangyuanli there are in all eighteen bathrooms, some large some small, that need to be cleaned.” When they have finished the first one, the two wipe the sweat off their foreheads, and immediately go on to the next.

On the way, there are the empty houses which the residences have moved out of, and piles of rubble. Carrying their tools, climbing up and down, the two arrive at a dry latrine, now no longer used, with no water at all. “Even though no one is using it, we come and check it everyday to make sure it is not leaking out or obstructed.” All the morning the two perform the same repetitive tasks. Pushing their cart back and forth, it is clear this is a long, slow job.

Returning to their squad headquarters, they are just in time for the quarter-year distribution of labor-welfare goods [usually gloves, boots, uniforms, flashlights, etc]. Carrying liquid soap and shampoo, they are about to shower, when they get a phone call.

“Our latrine pit is blocked up, can you come and take a look?” Without having a chance to eat a meal, the two went and got their equipment again from the storehouse, and went off, back at work.

Every day when Fan Duanyong and Li Jun finish work, they stop and look around them for a while. The neighborhood of one-story houses which they knew so well is rapidly being demolished by men in coordination with machines. These lanes and alleys will be reborn, and the work they did by hand will be replaced by mechanization.

Fan Duanyong and Li Jun hope that whatever job they have in the future, they can continue to work with both hands to keep the city running smoothly.









Guangyuanli official notices

konjaku: Guangyuanli is the largest shantytown in Beijing Xicheng district which is being renovated, beginning in 2016. See previous post for details.


On the Guangyuanli project website one can read notices issued by the government. According to the “Assessment of the Standard Value for Levied Property” dated 2016-03-19, the government offers in compensation 50923 yuan per square meter (the interior area of the resident’s current home). As far as I can tell, this is the same as the going price for new homes in Xicheng in early 2016. (

By mid 2017, prices had doubled, to 113652 yuan.

Screen Shot 2017-09-26 at 10.48.22 AM.png

With inducement awards and other benefits added, this is a lot of money, although the residents apparently have to spend most of it in purchasing their new home. If one has a small home, measured at 30 square meters, at this rate one would still receive over one-and-a-half million yen.

Alhough most residents accepted this offer, some held out. This notice gives them 24 hours to decide:

A sealed letter to the residents 05-17

Our friends, residents of Guangyuanli,

Today 2016-05-17, is the last day to sign a contract in the Guangyuanli renovation project. Those who have not yet done so, should sign a contract before the next 24 hours is up, agreeing to have their property levied and receive a compensation.
Those who have not yet signed, from tomorrow the great benefit of getting inducement awards will disappear, and the project will proceed according to administrative law. In the end, those who do not move out of their homes shall have the administration of justice carried out upon them.

Among those subject to the levy, the 2228 households of Guangyuanli, at present there remain only some tens of households who have not yet signed. In order to ensure the essential benefits for the almost complete majority who have already signed, after the deadline has passed the command post will with all its strength push forward to enforce the law and the orderly administration of justice. The levy and compensation policy cannot be changed for any reason whatsoever, or for any person whatsoever. The remaining residents should by no means listen to and believe rumors, but hold fast to the real and dependable benefits available for their families, and not let themselves suffer a loss that is unnecessary.

After 24 hours, if there are some who still have not signed, the command post will publish and make public the results of those who have and have not signed. At the same time it will establish a network of inquiry, and we request our friends the residents to take down in notes the relevant information on those households which have not signed a contract. Later, as the legal process gets underway, the inquiries will be revisited, to determine if there was anyone who made false statements which had an effect on their compensation final result, and whether these results exceeded the limits set by the policy.

The compensation result for each and every household will be subject to the scrutiny of the entire body of residents, in a completely transparent manner. If there is anyone who has exceeded the compensation amount called for in the policy, this will be exposed in the light of day.and they will be punished severely according to the law.

Our friends the residents, we ask that you earnestly grasp hold of this opportunity that will enable you to improve your lives, and as quickly as possible, sign a contract with the Resident Working Team. Don’t let go of the benefits that should belong to you, and from simply not signing a contract in time losing everything for no good reason.

Guangyuanli Shantytown Renovation Project Command Post (with seal affixed)

original document:


konjaku: for the Guangyuanli renovation project, the residents’ homes and land are levied by the state. For the project to go forward, they must vacate their homes, which will then be demolished in order to build a new multi-story complex on the site. Their homes are levied –this matter is not subject to their approval. However, the state wants them not to resist, but to sign a contract, which besides bringing them material compensation, indicates their agreement to the process. The tension between the involuntary precondition and the voluntary act of signing is evident in this document. The letter addresses the people of Guangyuanli as “our friends the residents”居民朋友们 in several places. But more often in the body of the letter the same people are referred to as beizhengshouren 被征收人, persons subject to the levy, or just “levied persons.”

The document asks the residents to gather information on their neighbors, to find out about and report on those who are unwilling to sign. If there are some people who have managed to sign for a larger compensation than they deserve, by somehow falsifying the surface area of their home or claiming more family members than they actually have, the command post wants their fellow residents to bring these discrepancies to light.

A sidebar states that 2174 households have signed, and 54 remain. That may be the final result.

Residents who do not sign are told they will have “the administration of justice carried out upon them.” However, they are not being threatened with forcible demolition, at least not right away. The following notice indicates that they can still sign and retain some reduced benefits after the deadline.


To our friends the residents who have not yet signed,

If you do not sign a contract before the deadline, 2016-05-17 at midnight, you will lose, at the least
170,000 yuan

(based on a provisional award of 10,000 and a house surface area of 30 square meters)

After that, every day you will lose at least

3000 yuan

By 2016-08-25, you will have lost, at the least

470,000 yuan ($71,000)

The above matter is hereby made public.

Guangyuanli Project Command Post (seal)


After the deadline of 2016-05-17, work on the project began, and the area was sealed off. This notice shows that the Command Post was still tolerant of the presence of residents who had not yet signed.

Please note: management of the project area– it is being strictly sealed off

Our friends the residents,

Taking a step to safeguard the project area under construction and to maintain order, to protect those who have not yet signed contracts and those residents who have not yet moved out, and to keep all property safe, this project shall, as of 2016-05-23, require that all staff members and equipment operators entering or leaving the area show identification, and forbids any workers or staff without fixed duties to enter. During this important construction period, it will strictly control which personnel can enter. From today, we request that those residents who have yet signed contracts, to go as quickly as possible and register with the project work team, also giving them your motor vehicle information. In that way the command post can issue, in a unified manner, certified documents allowing the bearers to go in and out of the project area, and to use their vehicles. This must be completed by 2016-06-01.

We ask that our friends the residents currently living in the project site, to view this with understanding and cooperation, thank you to everyone!

Guangyuanli Shantytown Renovation Command Post
2015-05-23 (seal)

光源里棚户区改造项目 4










Shantytown renovation in central Beijing: Xicheng

konjaku: as was the case in Dongcheng, shantytown areas are close to, or indeed part of, significant historical and historical neighborhoods.

Xicheng District

1.Baizifang and Baiwangzhuang beili.

02-18 (2016) was the first day for residents of Baizifang shacks to sign contracts in the renovation project. A similar project is underway in Baiwangzhuang beili.

Baizifang 白纸坊
Baiwangzhuang beili 百万庄北里

2.Caiyuan street and Zaolin nanli

Xicheng district has announced, that in this renovation project all residents who want to return to live in the original location may do so [trading the space of their original home for space in a multi-story complex]. Those who opt instead for monetary compensation may select from designated housing in Daxing, Fengtai, or Fanshan, with a purchase price of 15,000 to 20,000 per square meter. Those who decide not to purchase the designated housing will get a subsidy of 5000 yuan per square meter on whatever they decide to buy.

Caiyuan St 菜园街
Zaolin nanli 枣林南里


3.Guangyuanli shantytown district renewal project
On 02-18 (2016) the 90 day period for the residents to sign contracts began. This project was set up in such a way that the actual demolition and construction work can only begin when the rate of contracts signed reaches 85%. If they do not reach 85% in the 90 day window, the project is cancelled. However, within a month the percentage of signed contracts was already at 90%.

Guangyuanli 光源里

Contracts reach 90% in Baizifang slum renovation project

03-21 Beijing. In the largest slum renovation project in Xicheng district, including Guangyuanli in Baizifang, Caiyuan Street and Zaolin nanlin, once 85% of residents have signed contracts, the requisition of land can officially start. On 03-21, one month after the announcement was posted, the percentage of contracts signed had already reached 90% Those residents who have signed are now busy with moving out, emptying their houses. (Text and photos: Vision China) Qianlong net


Outside the Baizifang east street Guangyuanli slum renewal office, there is a digital display board that shows in real time the percentage of contracts signed. At present the figure has reached 90.22%.

photo: the digital board. In this photo, the percentage has reached 90.31%. The board shows a current bonus status of 5万 (50,000 yuan), and says that if sixteen more households sign contracts, 1万 (10,000 yuan) will be added to the bonus total –another horizontal red line in the rectangle on the left side. It says there are 58 more days to the deadline. If all households sign, 100%, every household will receive 15万(150,000 yuan, approximately $23,000). From the board, one can guess that 150 to 200 households have not yet signed.


City resident Chen Yuying said his old house in Hongjian nanli has two rooms, and the replacement residence his family will move into in the same general location will be a suite with three rooms. Since the new residence will be larger, they will have to pay 7000 yuan per square meter for the extra space. However, Chen Yuying told the Beijing Youth Report correspondent that with the bonus for moving out before the advance date, the encouragement reward, the rental subsidy for temporary housing,etc., they will still have 200,000 yuan left over. “We have a rental in Jiaomen Xili (between the 3rd and 4th ring) and we are preparing to move in there.”


Once the signed contracts percentage goes over the 85% ceiling (which has already happened), for every new signing, all those residents who have signed contracts will get a one percentage point bonus of 10,000 yuan ($1475). If the percentage of contracts signed reaches 100%, the total bonus the residents will get will become 150,000 yuan.


The Baizifang slum redevelopment project goes on two fronts:1) Guangyuanli, 2) Caiyuan street and Zaolin Nanli. In total it is 29 hectares, with construction comprising 265,400 square meters, involving 5000 households. In the area involved there are 32 spare and economical buildings, 43 old buildings in danger of collapse, mixed in with 3500 one story houses of various types. Demolition on buildings which have been requisitioned once contracts have been completed will start on 04-01.

An official involved in the redevelopment project said that the total of those at present who have chosen the replacement housing built on the same location, like Chen Yuying, is 60%. Others have chosen other designated housing, or just to receive a sum of money. The other designated housing is in Daxing, Fengtai, and Fanshan. The price for those residents who choose this option is 20,000 yuan per square meter, 30% below market price.

Those who have moved out of their houses and removed all their possessions from the property, having had their houses demolished, will receive their compensation within ten working days after the date announced by the district government, namely, 04-01-16. By 03-19, already over 100 families have moved out of their houses and into temporary residences. Those who move out and settle in the temporary housing before the cut off date will receive an extra award of 10,000 yuan per square meter (of their old house).


An official in the project headquarters said, beside the traditional method of disseminating public announcements by posting information on walls, they invested in the latest technology, and now have an electronic information system in place. It has the results of the survey of households, details on the plan, the rate at which contracts are being signed, and info on compensation paid out. The residents can look up all of these matters in real time, as they are constantly updated — this is a first.


the project website (in Chinese)

The headquarters has also set up a supervision department, a procuratorate department, an inspecting discipline department, and an auditing department, that is, an extensive staff with the sole duty of insuring there is no corruption or abuse of authority. The companies which provide services for the project have signed an agreement to be honest, clean, and self-disciplining. At various places in the affected area of the project100 clean-government report boxes (complaint boxes) have been set up. The project officials request that all residents carry out their own supervision of the process, and report any violations by workers or personnel of legal stipulations and project policies.


The project office has also set up a coordination committee made of representatives who have been elected from, and by the residents. This committee participates in every step of the project, and has set up four work stations: a resident reception center, a mediation center, a legal services center, and a notarization center — all there to serve the residents during the transition.

For those residents who have chosen to come back to replacement housing on the same site, there is a model of the new buildings to help the residents determine where in the complex they want to live, following the motto, “ For my new house, I am the one who decides.” For those residents who have chosen to live in the alternate designated housing (in Daxing, Fengtai, and Fanshan) there will be a large bus available to take them out to look at the residences.

For those residents who choose to receive monetary compensation only, as an example if their old house was 50 square meters, with all the various awards and bonuses, they are eligible to receive as much as 5 million yuan. ($740,000)

Guangyuanli 光源里
Baizifang 白纸坊
Caiyuan Street 菜园街
Zaolin nanlin 枣林南里
Hongjian Nanli 宏建南里
Jiaomen Xili 角门西里

konjaku: the Guangyuanli renovation was well under way by 03-2016. The following article is dated 2015-01-26, more than one year earlier, and captures some of the residents apprehensions, before the details about the project have become clear.

Guangyanli farewell– three generations living together, only separated by a few boards

Guangyuanli area is a bunch of one story houses in what seems like a patch of low-lying ground, surrounded by tall buildings. Almost every house has an addition built into it because the original house became too small for the occupants, and these expanded houses have caused narrow alleys to shrink further. Often the alley has boards that span its width, running across horizontally, at just under the height of a tall person. (photo)


It is not unusual there are to be two generations living in a house in which the bedroom, dining room, and living room are all one room. Many shantytown residents welcome the chance to move to better living conditions in a multi-story building, and they have high hopes for the renovation project. But their expectations are mixed with worry.

At one place there is a spare and economical two-story building, by the side of the road, with a low one-story house beside it. In front of the house is a small shack, thrown together with planks of wood. This is the Liu family’s storage space. There are many similar such shacks all around Guangyuanli. “The inside of the house is very small. It’s hard enough to accommodate all the people who live there, much less all of our stuff.” The Liu family house is altogether twenty square meters, and inside is piled high with things. Outside is bright daylight, but they need to have a lamp lit to illuminate the house. Their table is stood up against the wall to save space, and they only set it upright when they eat a meal.

Some ten years ago the older Mr Liu built the first addition to their house, an extra room. The reason was simple: his son had grown up, and parents and child could no longer sleep in the same room. Mr Liu’s neighbors did the same, changing what had been a small kitchen into a bedroom.

Fifty-two-year-old Mr Li is a long-time resident, “I have lived here since I was a few months old. Twenty years ago he added a small room of seven or eight square meters, and then another one that filled up his courtyard. Mr Li installed a shower and a toilet. Unlike the Liu house, his interior is not as dark, because he installed glass on the ceiling to reflect light. ”It’s much brighter in here, and [because he put in a toilet] I don’t have to go outside to go to the bathroom, but these improvements are still only a few.” Mr Li spoke with some pride of his additions, which he had designed himself.

Between the spare and economical building and the Liu family house, there is a garbage heap with all sorts of multi-colored refuse. One resident said, on rainy days rainwater flows out of the garbage heap, down the alley and into her house. Although she has cleaned after, and keeps her house neat and tidy, the walls and roof have many marks of repair, and she worries what will happen on the next rainy day. “It’s just not sanitary, I’m too close to that rubbage heap. I worry about all the things that might happen from the rainwater.”

There is no working drainage system. Whenever it rains, standing water accumulates. The residents often put sandbags in front of their houses, to stop the water from flooding in.

“Besides the water, the other big worry is fire.” One resident pointed out that if a fire broke out in these narrow alleys piled with things, or among these roughly built storage sheds, crowded up against each other, the fire trucks would have a difficult time getting in.

Following along Banbuqiao Street going south, there is a forest of construction cranes, busily at work, but beyond that activity ceases, and on both sides of the street are low-slung one-story houses, row after row. Some of these one-story buildings have become stores, some are small restaurants.

Wang Yude built a five meter square one- room shack in front of his house for his son to use as a bedroom.It is just big enough to hold a single bed and an electric heater. In Wang Yuse’s house the cold wind comes in through the cracks around the window frame. He has no heat, and the temperature inside is low. Wang Yude rubs his hands together and rocks back and forth to try and feel warm.

Mr Zhang does not like to recall life in the shantytown. At times five people were living in a house less than 25 square meters. Parents and children slept together. He and his wife had a room that was an add-on, with only a partition separating it from the rest of the house. “We were typical of shantytown residents –three generations under one roof, only a board separating our room from the rest of the house.”

Mr Zhang moved two years ago to an apartment in a very old two-story building, with his wife and child. “Since we now pay rent there is more economic pressure on us, but as my child grows up, we need to provide a room for him to study in.If we have to go and live with my parents again, it would be very inconvenient. Before we had a child, my wife and I would go for a stroll at night, or chat with the neighbors, waiting until my parents fell asleep before going back home.”

Mr Wang’s house is eighteen square meters. He added on, making it now twenty-four square meters. His son has a temporary job and lives in a dormitory. The son comes back home on weekends, but still goes back to the dormitory to sleep. There just isn’t enough room. Mr Wang looks forward to having a larger, brighter house–”Who would not want that? If we had a house like that, my son might be encouraged to find someone to marry.”

The Guangyuanli redevelopment project involves over 90,000 square meters, and 2500 households.

In the ninth month of last year, when the residential community staff member came to visit Mr Liu to check his household registration, measure the surface area of his house, and solicit his opinion on the project, Mr Liu did not hesitate: “I am in favor of it. Who would not want to move to a better house?

When asked, Mr Li raised both hands in approval saying, “I have lived here many years, but we all want to live in a multi-story building when the area is redeveloped.”

In the shantytown area there are several pit latrines, which asault people with acrid smells during the summer. When it rains raw sewage floats in the run-off. Mr Li, who is 69, said as he gets older these conditions become more difficult. “I have two wishes: one is not to have to go outside when I need to use the toilet, and the other is to have a place to take a bath inside my house. To live in a multi-story building, roomy and bright, with running water and heat, this is something an old person like me looks forward to.”

Ms Wang, 52, has lived here for 40 years. She added a kitchen and a bedroom to her small house. “There are some people who have moved away and rent out their houses, because the environmental conditions are getting worse. They get a little money for that.” She is looking forward to the redevelopment.

After the survey of his household, Mr Li has heard no further news. There has been little in the newspapers. “They have not sent anyone back to come and talk to us about the redevelopment standards.” He often stands at the entrance to his alley, talking with neighbors about the project. “We still don’t know how compensation rates will be determined, whether based on the number of people in the household, or on the surface area of our old homes.” Mr Li’s home is a bit better than most of his neighbors, as he has put in a shower, a toilet, and two bedrooms. “If it is based on surface area, our family will probably only get a one-room residence in the multi-story building [built on a site in the same neighborhood]. That won’t be an improvement for me, as I already have two bedrooms. Our new place won’t even have one bedroom.How can I call this an improvement?”

Mr Liu is wondering about the same thing. “If I only get a one room apartment based on surface area, that won’t be enough room for my family. If we all have to pay 10,000 to 20,000 yuan to purchase larger residences, most of the low-income people around here cannot possibly afford that much. If we get better homes but have no money left, we need to reconsider.”

If they take the option of moving out of the neighborhood they might get more living space, but Mr Liu is not giving up yet. “If we move to the suburbs we might get a bigger place, but there are many inconveniences about living there. Hospitals and traffic are two of the issues.”

Although the shantytown residents are full of hope about the redevelopment project, and even though they often despair about their current living conditions, they still feel reluctant to part with a place they have know for at least half a lifetime.

Residents moving back to Guangyuanli will get fully furnished rooms –all they’ll need is a suitcase of personal belongings, everything else will be there

After shantytown restoration, those residents who are returning to new housing built on site do not have to worry about rushing about figuring how to fix up their new residences. In the model room for the replacement project they can see exactly what the brand new walls, floorboards, and kitchen will look like.
Residents of Baizifang examine the model room


The one story houses that made up Baizifang and Guangyuanli have already disappeared without a trace. There is a flat patch of ground on which scattered brick and rubble remain,where soon a row of brand new buildings will tower overhead. Guangyuanli, in the Baizifang district of Xicheng, is undergoing one of the shantytown restoration projects in the area, involving 2137 households. The rate of those families who have signed contracts is at 97 percent.


Wang Xiaoqin, a resident of Guangyuanli whose house has been demolished, was one of the first to sign a contract. Auntie Wang signed early, and she moved out of her small two room house as soon as possible. She no longer needs to be troubled with the dirty and disorderly environment in which she previously lived. Auntie Wang told this reporter, as one of the earliest batch of residents to move out, she also received an inducement award and a subsidy, besides her compensation money for a new residence,. She is now renting two rooms in in the same neighborhood, and she is waiting for the shantytown renovation to be finished, so she can move into her new home.

photo: model of the redevelopment


Guangyuanli comprises 13.3 hectares, with over 1800 one-story buildings. Some are homes, some are buildings, but the area does not have many services. Most buldings were built in the 1950s. As shown in this photo, some buildings have already been demolished. There is one 18 story building which was built in the 1980s. The population is about 10,000. There are no schools, stores, or playgrounds, or other public facilities in the area.

In the model room, Auntie Wang can see exactly what her new home will be like. Seeing everything together in one set, she has no worries about having to fix up or change anything in her new place. She says since any home has to eventually be renovated after a number of years, so she will wait that long before changing things to better suit her taste. In fact, this reporter has learned that the new residences leave some leeway for the residents to decorate as they wish.

The Xicheng District Baizifang shantytown has been there for many years. The city has lagged in providing infrastructure, sanitation is poor, the space is cramped, the houses old. In Guangyuanli there is no plumbing, only ten or twenty pit latrines, which is especially inconvenient. For a long time the residents have been hoping for improvements to their living environment.

At present there is a ratio of one car per home. When the renovation is completed, each family will be guaranteed one parking space. 60 percent of the residents have chosen to come back to the same site, while the remaining 40% can choose between designated housing in either Jiugong town in Daxing, the Nanyuan Residential District in Fengtai, or Liangxiang in Fangshan.




4. Dazhalan Yangmei Zhuxie
In progress (2016). Because of a funding problem, only a section of residents have moved. The replacement housing for Yangmei Zhuxie is Zhangyicin in Fengtai, Huilongguan in Changping, and Tuanhe in Daxing.







Zhangyicin 张仪村
Huilongguan 回龙观
Tuanhe 团河

Dazhalan Yangmei Zhuxie 大栅栏杨梅竹斜街

Yangmei zhuxie street –protecting a 486 meter long historical and cultural district blending tradition and innovation

Reporter Li Bin, Zhang Manzi, Kong Xiangxin


konjaku: this an excerpt, not the whole article

This reporter is following the organic transformation undergone by Yangmei zhuxie street in the Qianmen neighborhood.

The thousand year old Yangmei zhuxie, although it is only 486 meters long, is comparable, in its historical and cultural significance, with the more famous examples of cultural preservation — Dashilanr (Dazhalan) Street and Liulichang. It too is becoming a distinctive pedestrian street.

Six years ago, a plan was formed to renovate Yangmei zhuxie, to preserve its historical elements and revive its culture. The key was to transform delicately without ruining the original character of the street.


Once many bookstores and presses lined up along this street. Those in the early modern period who were eagerly pursuing new forms of knowledge gathered here: Kang Youwei Tan Sitong, Liang Qichao, Lu Xun, Yang Xiaolou [see below]. Some lived here, others were frequent visitors.

The plan calls for those who leave, to leave voluntarily. Of 1711 households, 718 chose to move out. The remaining approximately 1000 residents have dispersed temporarily into household compounds. After moving out of their old households, the Beijing Dazhanlan company will implement the plan, using small-scale “micro-circulation” to bring about an organic development and transformation [as opposed to a big-development plan, tearing everything down and starting over].

Burying utility lines underground, restoring the guildhalls and the houses of famous people, laying brick and tile walkways, recovering the style of the past… this form of development, while transforming those areas that have become dangerous [excessive crowding or buildings near to collapse], preserves the original charm and tradition for the original inhabitants and the next generation.

Kang Youwei 康有为 leader of the failed Hundred Days’ Reform movement
Tan Sitong谭嗣同 politician, thinker and reformer, also a leader in the Hundred Days’ Reform movement
Liang Qichao 梁启超 pupil of Kang Youwei and prominent intellectual leader
Lu Xun 鲁迅 the preeminent Chinese novelist of the early 20th century
Yang Xiaolou 杨小楼 Peking opera actor and innovator


5. Shichahai project

This project is on the east side of the Shichachai historical and cultural zone. comprising 15.56 hectares, 296 buildings with courtyards,. Among these, there are 127 household compounds, and 170 businesses. This project involves 3567 residents in 1286 households.Total capital investment is 6.1 billion ($900 million) Construction will take four years, the principal task will be to renovate the sewage pipes and waste disposal system, and to redo the old buildings. They will utilize underground space to build a large scale parking lot,and regulate and bring up to standard the various businesses, making stores are selling high end, high quality works of art to the tourist trade.
In order to relieve congestion in the area, the Shichahai administrstion has started a pilot project, sending proposals to 4620 households asking them to move to housing outside Shichahai.. So far, the residents of 47 household compounds have agreed to move. When this pilot project expires at the end of this month (03-2017), the administration will study what further steps can be taken.
The mode of compensation is to choose one of two options, either replacement housing or a sum of cash to buy a new residence. If residents choose replacement housing, they will receive a unit of two rooms totalling 90 square meters.They will also receive an inducement award of 40,000 yuan per square meter, and a lump sum of 48,000 yuan. They will also receive a subsidy for setting up air-conditioning.
If they choose the cash option, they will receive the same inducement awards, and 5,8971 yuan per square meter.

konjaku: Various parts of Shichahai, an area around several lakes northwest of the Forbiddden City. a scenic and historical district also well-known for its nightlife, have been the subject of renovation plans and attempts in recent years. In 08-17 (when this is being written), two-story buildings doing business as open-air bars are being demolished. There is another pilot project to move and renovate historical buildings with courtyards, turning them into a “courtyard demonstration zone.”

Shichahai 什刹海

6. Baitasi (Miaoying temple) The White pagoda temple
In Baitasi Lane in Xicheng there are 13 non-conforming buildings that must be demolished according to the law. This is the one allowable project in the Baitasi cultural zone. Once these buildings are demolished, the resulting space will be turned into a parking lot, to alleviate the parking problem in the area.

Baitasi 白塔寺

7. 信达宣A-G地块 Zindaxuan A-G land parcels
The A-G land parcels in east Zindaxuan A public announcement has been made that bids are invited to transform structurally unsound buildings in the B parcel.

8. 棉花A6A7 A2A5地块 Mianhua the A6A7and the A2A5 parcels–taking bids to demolish certain dangerous buildings.

9. 桃园C地块 Taoyuan C Parcel: a bid has been accepted for a project to build an enclosing wall around a site where buildings were demolished, and to harden the ground inside

10. Xuanxibei, Xuanxi fengmao

Xixheng district has started the Xuanxibei shantytown transformation project. For Xuanxi fengmao various north parcels, compensation has been set at 61,998 yuan per square meter of existing building, and the designated replacement housing is Heshun jiayuan between the south 4th ring and 5th ring.
“We started surveying the residents 12-2014, and by 04-2015 we have gotten 90 percent approval for the project.” The official in charge told this reporter that they must guarantee voluntary cooperation of the residents, a transparent and fair process in which all the residents of a compound with courtyard agree to move. “If there are some compounds in which not all the residents agree to move, we will develop a specialized plan to renovate each of those compounds individually, according to the actual situation, including the surrounding roads and infrastructure.”



Xuanxibei 宣西北,
Xuanxibei fengmao 宣西风貌协调
Heshun jiayuan 合顺家园

photos of Heshun jiayuan:



11. 天桥演艺区北部平房区Tianqiao yanyi (performing arts) district
Improve the environment of the Northern Pingfang residential area in the Tianqiao yanyi (performing arts) district . This is in the inspection and planning stage.

12. 国家大剧院西侧项目 Western side next to the National Center for the Performing Arts housing and environment improvement project

Residents wil move out of dense neighborhoods of one story houses in a number of hutongs (alleys)such as Qianxiwachang, involving more than one thousand houses. Compensation will be a monetary payment to purchase a new residence, the amount of which will be coordinated through the government in terms of the price of possible housing available. The designated housing is in Kang’run Jiayuan (residential complex) in the Fengtai district, but spaces are limited, “the first to sign a contract, the first to select a new residence, the first to clear out of their old house, will have the best choices.”

photo: the National Center can be seen in the background


other views of the neighborhoodImg8069872_n.jpg


Residents’ reactions:
Some worry that if their neighbors sharing the same compound do not want to move, it will be hard for them to receive the inducement rewards
Many of the alleys around the National Center for the Performing Arts are over one hundred years old. Qianxiwachang alley dates from the Ming, it got its name from being at the entrance to a well-known tile factory. (Qian, in front of, xiwa, fine tile; chang, factory).In this alley there are a number of compounds with houses arranged around a shared courtyard. Many families squeeze in to share a single courtyard, as some residents have added annexes in any available space. The alley and the passageways in the compounds are very narrow, some only two meters wide. Seventy-year-old Mr Zhang said, “I do really want to move, but it is also hard to leave.” Mr Zhang calculated that his house is 20 square meters, which with the various types of compensation would give him altogether about 3 million yuan, which would allow him to easily buy two residences in the replacement housing complex.
Many old Beijingers living here don’t want to move. “I have lived here my whole life, and I don’t want to leave. Here it is easier to see a doctor, and easier for my granddaughter to go to school. However, the environment here definitely is inferior. I wish they would make improvements, keep things in good repair, and let us continue to live here.”
Those residents who have decided to leave have one worry: in a compound with shared courtyard, all those who live there must agree to move. But if one household doesn’t move out, maybe the others can’t leave either. They may not to be able to get their inducement awards.

Compensation: according to the project notification, this consists of a cash amount. If the residents make a request to acquire the designated replacement housing, the government will allocate money from the compensation amount to purchase the housing.
Amount consists of purchase price of resident’s current home, plus various awards and subsidies.
If a compensation amount is not enough to purchase the least expensive unit in the replacement housing, the amount necessary to complete the purchase will be provided, and will not displace any other awards or subsidies.
Qianxiwachang 前细瓦厂
Kang’run Jiayuan 康润家园


13.  project to protect and utilize the Dazhalan (Dashilar) Historical Culture Exhibition Hall. This project will requisition buildings, Numbers 2,4,6,8 on Yingtaoxie street, and pay compensation.

Dazhalan Historical Culture Exhibition Hall大栅栏历史文化展览馆
14. Project to protect and utilize the Wuxu Reform Memorial Hall (Hundred Days Reform 1898)
The compensation plan has been proposed and passed through the public vetting stage. Replacement housing will be Dongba Dandian second stage residential development in Chaoyang.

Wuxu Reform Memorial Hall 戊戌维新纪念馆

Dongba Dandian second stage 东坝单店二期

15.  The Beijing Kunqu opera theatre center.
220 houses, from Longzhaohuai alley to the east, South to Beijing number 15 middle school, west to Caisikou dajie (street) , north to Taoran Tinglu (road).

The Beijing Kunqu opera theatre center 北京昆剧艺术中心项目

Longzhaohuai alley 龙爪槐胡同
Caisikou dajie 菜市口大街
Taoran Tinglu (road)陶然亭路

16. Spare and economical buildings:
Xicheng Assistant Party Secretary said District Head Wang Shaofeng said that by 2020, all the spare and economical buildings in the district would be vacated and demolished. Because of questions of historical preservation and the red tape involved in levying land, this is taking a long time. The focus is old buildings in danger of falling down, buildings in cultural preservation areas, and buildings on plots of land near urban villages.As these are entered in the registration procedure gradually the backlog will be cleared. We must make the appeals of the people the priority, and build high quality and attractive replacement housing with an improved environment, widening and filling in the infrastructure and facilities to form a complete set of services for daily life.

17. Dashilanr zhuliang neighborhood improvement project

Dazhalan Zhuliang block will be renovated “in the old style”

Under the thirteenth five-year plan, the Dazhalan Zhuliang area will be renovated in a way that protects and preserves its historical form.

Qianshi (Money Market) Alley, and the former residence of Tan Xinpei [Beijing opera actor]will be vacated and turned into museums. Those residents who live in historical compounds sharing a courtyard will have their houses renovated.

Qianshi Alley is famous as Beijing’s narrowest street. Two people can barely pass each other as they walk through it. It is 55 meters long, but its average width is 70 centimeters, and in some places 40 centimeters. Nevertheless this was the financial center at the end of the Qing (1644-1911), Beijing’s earliest “finance street.” In the past, small private banks were lined up in great numbers here. Now, Qianshi Alley is filled with compounds occupied by many households, and among them there is no lack of illegal buildings.



The residents will all be moved out, the non-conforming buildings demolished, and the diseased buildings will be repaired. Buildings 1-10, which are historical relics, will be restored to their original appearance, at the same address, based on historical documents. In the future, private banks will reappear on Qianshi Alley. The other vacated buildings will be turned into a money and commerce museum.

The former residence of Tan Xinpei will be turned into a museum about historical drama.

front gate


from the outside


Tan Xinpei


The timetable to vacate the buildings is being drawn up. The project is slated to begin at the end of the first quarter of this year (2017).

To renovate compounds in the proper historical fashion, residents will have guidance.

In order to help Dazhalan residents restore their compounds, Xicheng district is providing a book of illustrations, which the residents can use as references.
A district official said, the main form of residences in Dazhalan was the quadrangle compound with a courtyard in the center (shiheyuan), but nowadays some compounds (dazayuan) no longer have this form. In response, Xicheng has put together the “Quadrangle compound plan and building committee,” inviting scholars and buildings specialists to contribute. These specialists wil survey existing compounds, and pick twenty as examples of how to properly restore buildings to the original quadrangle form, making illustrations of the process in a handbook. These handbooks wil be distributed to residents as samples of how to proceed with restoration.

Dazhalan Zhuliang 大栅栏珠粮街区
Qianshi (Money Market) Alley 钱市胡同
Tan Xinpei 谭鑫培
dazayuan multi-family compounds 大杂院
shiheyuan, shiheyuanr, qudrangle of residences with central courtyard 四合院

18. Also in Dazhalan Zhuliangjie, several projects:
Lang fang er tiao、Men kuang hutong, and Zhubaoshi street –buildings and building facades in this area will be renovated.

Langfang er tiao 廊房二条
Men kuang hutong 门框胡同
Zhubaoshijie 珠宝市街

photos of Langfang er tiao



the turquoise-colored square warns against carbon monoxide poisoning from unventilated coal heaters


19.  Fayuanshi (temple) pilot project
The focus is on fixing up two nearby hutong (alleys), preserving the historical and cultural features, while at the same time using creative ideas, building a suitable living environment to improve peoples’ lives.

Fayuanshi 法源寺

20. Debao number 7
Residents of the Debao number 7 shantytown will be relocated. Through a vote, they have agreed that the real estate price structure on new residences will be determined through a public drawing of lots, which will randomly make selections.
Debao number 7 德宝7号地

21. Tianning temple east side requisition project

The Tianning temple pagoda tower and the adjacent old industrial smokestack are a well known pair, the “two hots.” Both will remain in an industrial park called Tianning Number One Culture Science and Technology Park.





Tianningsi 天宁寺
two hots 二热

Shantytown renovation in central Beijing: Dongcheng

konjaku: the urban-rural reunification project of transforming the outlying fifty villages around Beijing began in 2008 in the spirit of “tackling the hardest problems first.” Perhaps that is why the city government waited several years before starting to renovate the shantytown districts within the city proper. Residents of these districts are not like villagers who remember an intact community in which families have lived for many generations, and who were making an income renting rooms in their household complexes. (Yet, even in West Zhongshili, this pattern is established –see below.) Although each site is different, in the city there is more likely to be abundant funds available through developers to compensate those who have to move, as the center city is a highly desirable area to redevelop. The government can expect less resistance and a smoother process overall. However, there are some different, and difficult, issues: finding or building replacement housing for residents of shantytowns who will not be able to move back to the same location, and dealing sensitively with sites close to the Temple of Heaven or with historic hutong neighborhoods.
In this post and the next, I will concentrate on Dongcheng and Xicheng, the two districts at the very center of Beijing, to look at similarities and differences with the 50 villages project.

Beijing 2016 Shantytown renovation gets approval–will involve at least 35,000 households

The bulk of the renovation projects will be in central Beijing: 4500 households in Dongcheng, 5000 in Xicheng, 6000 in Chaoyang, 6000 in Haidian, 4500 in Fengtai, 4000 in Shijingshan. The suburbs are less represented in the plan. 5000 households are to be transformed in Huairou, but the other districts will have to wait.

As of 2016-01, the number of Beijing city residents in the plan who have already signed contracts to move out of their shantytowns is 2893, or 8.27% of the total (35,000). The amount of money to be invested is 100 billion yuan ($15 billion–14,857,737,166). In Dongcheng 1458 residents have signed contracts –the most in all districts up to now.

The common peoples’ enthusiasm for these projects is very high. In the spare and economical buildings near the Temple of Heaven, the rate of residents who have signed contracts is 85%, and the same for West Zhongshili [konjaku:see below for details on these projects].


Beijing published its plan to demolish and relocate certain places at the beginning of the year –the latest developments — is your home a worry?

(The point of view expressed in this article is the author’s, and does not represent the view of Sohu net.)

At the beginning of the year Beijing published “ 2016 work schedule of the transformation of shantytown areas and fixing environmental problem areas.” We’ll take a quick look at the progress of demolition projects in six Beijing districts.

Dongsheng District:

1. Spare and economical buildings near the Temple of Heaven
Cluster of spare and economical buildings to the west and south of the Temple of Heaven. This comprises 57 economical buildings, 2589 registered permanent residences, 8134 people, 2414 real estate properties. These spare and economical buildings were built in the 1960s and 1970s. They have not been repaired for many years, have aged beyond their usefulness, and are full of safety issues (hidden dangers ). Residents of these buildings can opt to buy designated residences in the east fourth ring, but because these housing resources are limited, it will be first come, first served, until they are all gone.
Temple of Heaven 天坛
Spare and economic buildings 简易楼


2. Beijing Dongcheng district West Zhongshili shantytown area
Zhongshili shantytown district will be demolished and transformed into Binhe (riverside) Park

Prospects are finally looking up for the shantytown dwelling residents of Wesrt Zhongshili. West Zhongshili is squeezed between the train tracks and the Tonghui river. The area will be cleared and made into a riverside park, while the residents’ designated housing will be in the Qingheli nanshanyuan multi-story complex in Chaoyang district Dougezhuang village.

West Zhongshili shantytown area 西忠实里棚户区
Binhe park 滨河公园
Tonghui river 通惠河
Qingheli nanshanyuan 青荷里南山园
Dougezhuang 豆各庄

This year (2016) in Beijing city, 118 shantytowns will be renovated, involving 57 thousand households


This reporter spent 24 hours in Dongcheng district Zhongshili shantytown. eating with residents and living under the same roof

Reporter Geng Nuo, photos Sun Yue

Photos: Xiao Jin and Xiao Liao live at Number 2 in west Zhongshili. The kitchen is two square meters, and a large tree trunk takes up a considerable amount of the space. Xiao Liao is in the process of cooking a meal.


In West Zhongshili, this type of building, a safety hazard, with an insecure story added over the original building, is seen everywhere. These spaces are rented cheaply to migrant workers.


These brick houses built right against the railway embankment have been there for decades. When a train goes by, these old buidings shake, in danger of falling down.


“I do not know how many more nights I will need to sleep here,” Lightly tucking her five year old under the quilt, 35 year old Xiao Liao (Young Liao) heaved a sigh, raising her eyes to the cracked and peeling ceiling, seemingly without the strength to continue to pit herself against the darkness and oppressive dampness of this house. The next morning she had to get up at 6, to take her child to attend a government run kindergarden 10 kilometers away.

From the narrow gable window at the top of her house, one can glimpse the area around Jianguomen ablaze with lights. But in this .49 square kilometer shanty town with the Tonghui River to the south and the railroad track to the north, it is absolutely pitch black. Inside the alley there are no lights, on the roadside there are no lights, the whole area seems swallowed up in darkness.

This year the city plans to renovate 118 shantytown areas. to improve the housing conditions of 57000 households. The residents of this shantytown fervently look forward to the renovation.

A large tree trunk occupies part of one wall of Xiao Liao’s 2 meter square kitchen. She has hammered nails into the wood, from which she hangs cutting boards and other kitchen implements. On rainy days, although Xiao Liao sprinkles quite a lot of salt, slugs crawl up the wood. Because of the tree’s tenacious growth, every year the kitchen roof and the floor must be repaired.

“This place is called ‘the first stop for those coming to the capital,’ but the reality of it is difficult to put into words.” A young fellow from the neighborhood committee took this reporter to the most impoverished sections.

To the south are the tracks coming out of Beijing Station, to the north is the south bank of the Tonghui River, to the west is the bridge leading to the east second ring along Tonghui Rover North Road, to the east is where Dongcheng meets Chaoyang district. On the map, west Zhongshili is called the Huangjin (gold) area, but this is misleading, Those who drive along the Tonghui Rover North Road are hardly likely to notice the ashen, dilapidated buildings which are scattered in the greenbelt between traffic arteries.

Screen Shot 2017-08-05 at 12.15.06 PM


Xiao Liao does not go out to work, but stays home to look after her family. All during the day and while awake, she plays music to drown out the sound of passing cars, just some 10 meters away. At 3:15 in the afternoon, she pushes out her bicycle to get ready to go pick up her child at the kindergarden 10 kilometers away. The next three hours are busy for her. But at the same time, she gets respite from the incessant noise: the sound of trains passing, and the long, shrill squeal of car brakes.

At 6 in the morning they are awakened by the din next door. Several houses have been rented by a goods distribution company, and employees are going in and out. Xiao Liao gets up and begins cleaning the rooms, trying to maintain the semblance of being in a normal house.

“I have been tidying up these several years, but the more I clean the more disordered things become,” Xiao Liao said, sweeping the corners while swatting a mosquito.

She has been living here with Xiao Jin (Young Jin) since 2011. That same year Jin’s uncle moved to Tongzhou to be near the kindergarden his grandson was going to, managing to get out of the shantytown. However, Jin’s family has lived here six generations, they are the “original inhabitants” of the village. Next door is another Jin uncle, 96 years old, who set aside the bowl of congee from his daughter-in-law to relate the history of the neighborhood.

When this Mr Jin was born, this area was farmland, under the Nanmofang production brigade. There were just six households here. People from outside started to arrive to be employed as construction workers when work started on the Beijing Railroad Station and the train lines along the river (1959). The companies involved in the construction built up temporary shacks to house the workers, and warehouses. The buildings which were meant to be temporary, gradually changed into dormitories. After that, as migrants arrived they settled in the vicinity of the railway. A complicated array of buildings grew up: state-owned houses, houses managed by work units, private houses, peasants’ homesteads with gardens, houses built by work units, houses self-built by residents. It is a diverse cross-section of all the types of real estate found in Beijing, legal and illegal –every type except for standard, market priced housing.

In all the years she has lived here Xiao has never gone to the “west side.” The Jin family have exhorted her that over there it is chaotic, that she should not rashly venture there.

“You are thinking of going there? I want to come along with you” she said to this reporter. It seemed as though she was curious about that area.

The further you go west, the more dilapidated it gets. Although this reporter had already gone to interview in some very well-known Beijing shantytowns, he had the same sense of shock as before when he saw brick houses that had been there for at least several decades, inside the railway bed, leaning on the embankment. These houses use the top of the slope as the edge of their roof. They used boards for support, and steel plates to add a second story. To plug the chinks in the pitched roof, the owner used irregular sizes and twisted pieces of brick, placed under the rafters. The rafters had changed color, showing they were already rotten to the core.

People who have come to Beijing to be manual laborers live in this particular area. A Ms Zhang from Henan province has been here for over a year. Her rent is 450 yuan a month, which allows here to have a room in a shack to call her own inside the east 2nd Ring.

“Don’t look, don’t look, everything’s a mess, ” Turning a corner on the second floor, unexpectedly three rooms and a kitchen appear. This reporter met Ms Zhang, who had received a long and narrow stool from a good hearted person. As she was dragging it along the road, the stool became stuck, and this reporter helped her pull it out and carry it in. However on the second floor Ms Zhang became embarrassed. In her small room there was a bed and a table, but no room for a second person to go in and even have a place to stand.

As this reporter was leaving Ms Zhang’s, at that moment a train went by. The were faint tremors in the ground, which must be increasing the danger that these old houses will eventually fall down. The railroad line separates the newer Zhongsili, in which houses have sprouted up like spring bamboo shoots in the last ten years, from West Zhongsili, which is older and more dilapidated.

Donghuashi residential district Deputy Director Yan Tao remembers clearly that when he started in his position in 2000, there were only a few buildings over two stories in this area. 95 percent of the land was occupied by shantytowns, just like Zhongshili is today. Starting in 2001, they began relocating people, and now 95 percent of the area is made up of modern, tall buildings.

The remaining 5 percent is West Zhongshili, and this area has almost entirely become an “ungoverned zone.” Cable tv service stopped five years ago. Houses do not have meters, but they still sponge electricity off of the city. All one story houses with courtyards have water faucets, but the water pressure is insufficient. There are newly built public bathrooms, but because there is no water pressure the toilets are pit latrines.

“Don’t go there, not in a million years! If you go in the public bathroom, when you come out you have a strong urge to wash yourself all over.” Xiao Liao pulled this reporter’s arm in the other direction.

According to a comprehensive survey, the following conditions are universal for the area: “building in danger of collapse, ” “ buildings that have not been repaired for years,” “disorderly buildings slapped together by occupants.”

In 2014, good news arrived. West Zhongsili would be one of the eleven shantytowns areas that would be completely transformed. West Zhongsili involves 445 households, which will move to new designated housing, and the emptied land will be turned into a green zone.

At the end of last year, an investigation commenced to determine the real situation of the area. More than one hundred people spent over a month here, finally sorting the intricate and complicated real estate arrangements and the distribution of the population. At present, except for two families they have lost contact with, data on the rest of the families in the area has been completely assembled.

“If matters continue at this pace, this year we will be able to post the announcement, and if we work hard, by the end of the year the first batch of families will have moved into new homes.” This was said by a person at the project command center. The necessary project funds, liaison with housing resources, and work assignments have all been fixed in advance.

This reporter has found out that the designated housing for West Zhongsili residents is government constructed public housing in Dougezhuang (Chaoyang district). The relevant government department has been considering the school issue at the new location. They have settled the residents’ permanent residence status before they relocate, and will be able to give them clear direction on how to enter their children in school.

“Although it is not yet fixed, perhaps we can begin to look forward to moving to new homes.” Xiao Liao looked happy.

Photos of the designated housing for W. Zhongshili, Qingheli Nanshanyuan:





West Zhongshili non-conforming buildings demolished, “using skylight to go in and out”



A structure partitioned into eight adjoining shacks, each twelve meters long, 2.5 meters wide, in which eight families live, migrant workers who have come to Beijing for construction jobs. They pay 300 yuan a month to live here, and do all their living in a space five meters square. All their refuse is scattered outside, creating a strong odor. There are no doors and windows –the only entrance is through the roof, the “skylight.”

Legal Daily reporter Hong Xue said, “I have seen many non-conforming buildings, but never before ones without doors, in which the only way to enter is from above.” Yesterday a city management team discovered this strange building in the process of demolishing structures in the same area. Wondering how the tenants got in and out, a member of the team discovered the “skylight,” a torn canvas flap on the roof, with a ladder set up just below the opening. The other wall was the embankment of the train tracks. Inside, a corridor one meter wide led to the only egress from the structure, the skylight.

Originally the train tracks were sealed off with wire mesh, but they had made an opening in the wire and filled in the space along the embankment with rocks, up to the level of the skylight. If there had ever been a fire, it would have been hard to get out.

The inhabitants have already moved out, and the city management law-enforcement team demolished the structure.


3. Baohuali, Xiheyan
Summary: “stranded houses” in Baohuali and houses in danger of collapse in Xiheiyan are being demolished to make way for a large scale residential complex. Residents will be able to acquire units in the new complex that correspond to the area of their demolished houses, and can purchase extra space for 5000 yuan per square meter. Or they can choose to move to other housing outside of the area.

Xiheyan 西河沿


(Above, 3 photos of Baohuali)

4.Qianmen dongqu
Forty-six hutong (traditional neighborhood alleys) will be renovated

The development angle of Qianmen is “old hutongs, new life, ” a new vitality for those remaining buildings and neighborhoods which we look at with nostalgia and which are a foundation of traditional culture. Taking West Damochang street as a starting point, Beijing is accelerating the pace to renovate the hutongs, clean up the environment, and bring in new commercial opportunities into the area. The comparatively well preserved Linfen Association Hall will be renovated and turned into the Beijing Association Hall Museum. Along with extending the Sanlihe green zone to the southeast, 46 hutongs will be renovated and upgraded with new infrastructure.

Qianmen dongqu 前门东区
West Damochang street 西打磨厂街
(see for photos of this classic street)
Linfen Association Hall 临汾会馆
Beijing Association Hall Museum 北京会馆文化陈列馆
Sanlihe green zone三里河绿化

5 photos of Qianmen dongqu, the last a model of what renovation might look like






4 photos of West Damochang Street:





The Linfen Association Hall after renovation


5. Dongcheng district Dongsi subdistrict and Nanluoguxiang hutongs will be renovated within this year.

Dongcheng district is taking a comprehensive approach to fixing and renovating its historical and cultural neighborhoods, with a “historical essence” zone encompassing Dongsi Third to Eight Alleys, and four alleys of Nanluoguxiang.

Yesterday, the Dongcheng district party secretary Yang Liuyin revealed that four hutong east of the Yuhe river (Tonghui canal) will be completely renovated over the next four years. They are Yuer hutong, Maoer hutong, Suoyi hutong, and Fuxiang hutong. This renovation will involve some 1000 households. It will improve housing conditions and relieve population congestion. Previously Yang Liuyin reported that at present the population of Dongcheng district is 1 million, with 280,000 migrants. On average, that is 20,000 people per square kilometer, but in some places there are 40,000 per square kilometer. Therefore, the Dongcheng plan, from 2011 to 2030, is to move out 10,000 people each year, with the eventual goal of having 200,000 people transferred out of the District.

Dongcheng belongs to an adminsitrative effort that this year will relocate or destroy buildings within the cultural preservation area which are not in the old capital style. [details of areas affected omitted]. It will continue the project of “Qianmen new [style] closed courtyards.”

Dongsi 东四
Nanluoguxiang (Southern Drum and Gong Lane) 南锣鼓巷
Yuer hutong, 雨儿胡同
Maoer 帽儿胡同
Fuxiang 福祥胡同

Nanluoguxiang (Southern Drum and Gong Lane) and four other allies (hutong) renovation project has been completed

By next year, Dongcheng District will have finished its projects to renovate shantytown areas. This includes the spare and economical buildings near the Temple of Heaven, Nanzhongzhou Road, etc. Construction of 6837 residences for replacement housing in Dougezhuang in Chaoyang [see “W. Zhongshili, Qingheli Nanshanyuan” photos above] and the “Liangzhanyijie” (Two subway stations one town)  development  in Tongzhou has started, 3728 units have been completed. Next year renovation will also begin on a number of culture sites, including Yonghe Temple and the Guozijian (Imperial Academy).

konjaku: some Dongsi and Nanluoguxiang hutongs have already been renovated and have become active tourist destinations. An example is Dazhalan (Dashilanr) street.
Dashilanr commercial street 大栅栏

The “Two subway stations one town” project in Tongzhou is quite large. It looks like quite a different living environment from the shantytown in central Beijing.

The Two stations one town development in Tonzhou is starting! The Beijing Zhuzong Group has already bought up 58 land parcels and consolidated them into one, and prepared a capital investment of 55 billion yuan (8 billion dollars) to create a high-end commercial town. This will be a “micro- center” of the Beijing-Tianjan cooperative development zone.

“Two stations one town” refers to a new commercial area built along the last two stations on the Yizhuang subway line, Yizhunaghuoche and Ciqi stations. [Ciqi station opened 12- 2010, Yizhunaghuoche station, last on the line, is not open yet.]

The best point of this development is the balance of commercial and residential sites. We hard-working long-distance commuters into the city will now be able to work and live at the same place. What a pleasant turn of events! Instead of having to jostle each other in the morning rush-hour crowd to get ahead, we can live a more human life. We can relax, knowing that education and medical facilities will all be close by when we need them. Won’t this be what living in the city center should be?

This year 2017, construction will start on roads and other infrastructure.

Two stations one town 两站一街
Yizhuang line 亦庄线
Yizhuang huoche station亦庄火车站
Ciqu station 次渠站



6. Wangtan
Wangtan is the largest shantytown area in Beijing. At long last the opportunity has come for the cocoon to be smashed and the butterfly to emerge. 20,000 long-time neighbors will walk from a shantytown into a transformed green thoroughfare. Dongcheng inked a contract with a large construction company. The Wangtan area residents and businesses have packed up everything and moved out, leaving the whole site to the construction firm. The work has already started, the timetable is being followed, and this year the job is due to be completed. “At long last the dawn is coming. We have waited through many setbacks, 24 years, for this.”

Contract signing starts in Wangtan shack clearance project

2017-04-11 Evening Legal Daily

At 8 o clock in the morning, contract signing officially began.

The project to renovate Wangtan, the largest shantytown in the center of Beijing, occupying 46 hectares, officially began with contract signing at 8 o clock in the morning. Those who sign s contract within the stipulated time period, will receive an award of 420,000 yuan. ($62,000)


Once the contract signing process got underway, this reporter discovered it only took ten minutes. 62 year old Chen Wanping was the second one to complete the process. She told this reporter that her son-in-law had been in line for two days to get the Number 2, so that they could be one of the earliest to select their new residence. They were able to get a two room suite of 68 to 78 square meters.

One of the directors of the project, Chang Zhangbo said, there are 4555 residents ready to sign contracts, 80% of the total. He calculates they will be able to get 600 contracts signed today, and all of them within one week. There is a period of 100 days to sign contracts. If at that time (by the deadline) the rate of signing has reached 75%, the process of requisitioning properties and paying the compensation specified in the agreement will go into effect. 5700 households will move into new homes.

konjaku: another website shows that the goal of 75% was reached on 04-18, seven days later.

In addition to the 420,000 yuan, signers will receive a number of smaller awards or subsidies.Once families move out, they will receive a subsidy for rent and expenses of 150 yuan per square meter of their old house, if this amounts to less than 4000 yuan, they will get 4000 yuan.

Before seleting a new residence, families will get a pamphlet details all of the options. They can choose to live in the new residences being built on the Wangtan site, or they can choose to move out to one of two residential complexes in Daxing district. There are seven possible combinations of compensation money, subsidies, and choice of residence for them to select from.

Wangtan 望坛

View of Wangtan


Wangtan street


The Wangtan renovation project model


Wangtan residents examining the noticeboard detailing compensation amounts


Wangtan’s “Retirement”

Wangtan means to “gaze at the Temple of Heaven.” (Wang 望 to gaze at from a distance, tan 坛 from Tiantan 天坛, Temple of Heaven). Most of the buildings in this area were constructed in the 1950s. After all this time, the area is rife with hidden dangers. 2017 -05-10 was the last day to receive a financial award for agreeing to sign a contract for the renovation project. At 4 PM, the number of contracts signed was 5095, or 90%.

In the near future, the residences in the area will be demolished. The next step will be to gradually get rid of the businesses which are operating illegally, without a license.

“Welcome!” An old resident, Zhang Hongxiang, waving, greeted this photographer. Inside their house, the whole family arranged themselves to photographed, chattering the whole time. This was the house in which they had lived for sixty years. “Now out in the courtyard!” This time, some neighbors joined in the picture (see photo).


Early summer, a light breeze. A man passing under a locust tree shook a branch, and blossoms fell on the roof of his old house. “When I first came here I was eight years old, in 1952, and the trunk of this tree was the diameter of a ricebowl. ”Thus courtyard was shared by six families, and we were given six saplings to plant.”

All the neighbors know the food market on Taoyang Road, the oldest state-run store in Wangtan. In the afternoon they gather outside the store, and set up a chessboard to play chess. A Mr Li, waiting his turn to play, pointed a finger down the road and said, “You can’t imagine how busy it once was here. Many Liberation-brand trucks drove west along this road. There were lots of young children here then, who liked watching them go by.” Mr Li sighed. ”The years have gone by quickly.”


photo above Liberation-brand truck, now in a museum

Ms Wang, who is now the manager of the food market, recollected that when she was 20 years old, her starting salary was 17.08 yuan a month. Since it was the only shop in the area, there were seventeen shop assistants, and they could barely keep up. Because of changes to the railway line the road going north was closed off, but this road going west is just as it was before.


inside the food market in Wangtan

Now half of the store interior is closed off. When the area is redone, Ms Wang plans to retire and live with her grandson.

After sixty years here, Ms Wang sits under the locust tree, unwilling to brush the falling tree blossoms out of her hair. “The summers were the best. To eat a bowl of noodles, right here, with one whole cucumber in the bowl, squatting on the ground. This kind of thing doesn’t happen any more.”

“The truth is, we won’t fondly remember our old houses, what we will cherish in our memories is our old neighborhood, the living here together day to day.” Zhang Hongxiang expressed the sentiments of all the old residents.


“It didn’t used to be like this. Two Liberation-brand trucks used to able to pass each other on the road. ”said Ms Liu of Liulijingnan Road. “If you look at what it is now, not even small vans can come in.”
In the Wangtan of today, there are many small streets that can’t handle automobile traffic, even pedicabs cannot go in and out. On nights and weekends, cars squeeze by without an inch to spare. Many are people visiting the Temple of Heaven, who park here and later go back home. [Parked cars block the lanes, forming a hidden danger.]

Others recall that what Ms Liu is talking about began in the 1960s. As new generations increased the number of family members living in a house, they added on to their houses, swelling them to the point of being over-stuffed.

Mr Li said he remembers vividly one night when there was a fire. That night he was resting inside his home when suddenly outside he heard a person yelling, “Fire!” Losing no time, he ran outside, and found the lane filled with rollong black smoke. Residents contacted the police, but when the fire engine hurried there, on the street which was not very wide to begin with, a stiff barrier blocked up the lane, made up of piles of odds-and-ends. Besides, Mr Li’s car was parked there, and three other cars.
After this, Mr Li realized that this old city district, which he knows so intimately, should be “retired.”

To accelerate the process of renovating Wangtan, Beijing’s largest shantytown, the Dongcheng district government, between 2016-12-24 and 2017-01-16, has taken 20,000 Wangtan residents in batches to tour one of the designated replacement housing complexes, Shouchangmeilanwan.


Shouchangmeilanwan is in the south Fifth Ring in Daxing. The Shouchang Group [Beijing Capital Group, a large state-owned enterprise] has done its utmost to produce high quality replacement housing, offering 3214 residential units to Wangtan residents. The complex will be finished in stages, starting 2018-12, going up to 2019-06. It has been reported that the Beijing Capital group has a plan to build more housing on 500,000 square meters of land adjacent to the west side of Shouchangmeilan. They anticipate being able to offer Dongcheng another 5000 residential units. Construction is slated to start sometime in 2017.

photos: residents arriving for the tourU398P4T8D8104633F107DT20161226094105.jpg

breaking ground ceremony


what Shouchangmeilanwan will look like


7. Jingshan

Adopting the “sponge city concept” (refashion urban areas to be able to hold, clean and drain water in an ecological way, rather than be damaged by floods) Dongcheng is pushing forward to rebuild low-lying households with courtyards. Starting in the Jingshan sub-district, it has a pilot project to raise up these buildings and redo the sewer lines, and to repave the courtyards with anti-skid, permeable bricks [permeable because these allow stormwater to seep through]. By the end of 2015, Jingshan had already finished renovating 64 low-lying homes. This year, the goal is to redo 80 to 100 homes.

Jingshan 景山地区

Houses in low-lying areas renovated, freeing residents from fast-moving rainwater

In the summer torrential rains, in Jingshan 170 homes built in low-lying areas or on depressions are vulnerable to rain-water flow, “if it’s a small rain it just comes in the house, if it’s a hard rain it reaches the roof.” This phenomenon produces anxiety: “the common peoples’ worry accumulates as the water accumulates.” Now 84 houses have undergone a trial to end this problem, with great success.

photo: 2015 low lying area renovated so that the water drains away: conventional pavement changed to permeable pavement



The difficulties faced were quite complex. If houses had drainpipes they were old and not functioning well. .Some houses did not have drainpipes at all, but still used the method from Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911), a seepage pit to hold excess water. This method does not align well in the modern city. Besides the houses, some municipal systems were in disrepair. Street surfaces were old, and the gaps between streets and houses where one or the other was sinking had grown larger, as much as 1.5 meters. The houses to fix were many, and the repair fund was not large. Confronting these problems, the thought was to be imaginative, and explore new methods and solutions that would get the most out of the limited capital available. An individualized plan was made for each house that would unfold in stages. Next the project workers explained the project fully to the residents, for without the support and participation of the residents, the project would fail.

photo Beijing city Deputy Mayor Li Jixiang investigating the flood conditions with members of his staff and the district committee secretary



photo: before and after


魏家社区南吉祥13号改造前              魏家社区南吉祥13号改造后

8.Chongwai #6
Dongcheng district is implementing demolition of the “stagnant areas” of Chongwai #6. For replacement housing the residents can choose to go to Dafangju in Tongzhou, outside the fifth ring. This is difficult to accept for those older residents who have lived for decades inside the second ring. When this plan was announced in 2006, a number of older residents did not agree to it. In 2007 it was proposed that residents would receive not one but two residences in the new residential complex, and a compensation award of 300,000 yuan. This overcame the resistance and most were prepared to move out, but then there was no further communication on the project.

photo: Chongwai#6 narrow alleyway, just enough for one person to go through


This project involves 7965 registered households, houses and buildings with a total area of 156, 000 square meters. Relocation of residents started in 2007. Up to now, 1000 housholds have been moved, while more than 6000 remain.

If all had gone smoothly, this shantytown district would have disappeared in 2008. But because Chongwai#6 borders on the Temple of Heaven, it involves cultural protection issues, and the approval process is longer than usual. Since the Temple of Heaven is a historical and cultural heritage site, it is not under the jurisdiction of Beijing city. Being a UNESCO World Heritage Site also added to the delay.

Now (2016) the residents are full of resentment at the real estate company (New World Real Estate) in charge of the project. “They buried us alive. They said they would demolish, but did not go ahead with demolition, and we lost the chance to buy the new residences. All we can do is wait. Who knows when we will escape from this predicament.”

photo: old house that has not been repaired for many years

Walking through the alleys of Chongwai #6, this reporter noticed that every ten meters there is an electrical box, with a placard on which is written the name of the resident served, and a meter. Resident Miao said, last year in this neighborhood the plan, “From coal to electricity” was completed. Before that, residents of this shantytown neighborhood relied on honeycomb coal briquettes to warm themsselves, polluting the environment, creating a hidden danger to lives and safety. “Since electrification, it has been much cleaner and tidier, and living conditions are much improved” Mr Miao heaved a satisfied sigh.

coal briquettes for heating


But another resident. Mr Xiaoli, had a different perspective. He had originally hoped that use of coal would end under Beijing city’s Twelfth Five Year Plan, and that Chongwai#6 would be demolished by the end of 2015. But now that the “coal to electricity” project has been done, Mr Xiaoli worries that they will be forgotten, and that the government has given up doing more in this area. “New World Reality is not pushing forward and doing anything. There is more and more delay, and there is no one to ask what is going on.” Mr Xiaoli has no idea where to lodge an appeal. The only thing he can do is post messages to the district head at the Dongcheng district website, which he does unceasingly.

The temporary district head in 2014, Zhang Jiaming, at that time issued a statement, stating that the government had been consulting with New World Reality for the last two years, to assist with demolition and to find new housing for residents in Tongzhou. As Zhang stated, the government indeed found some replacement housing. In 2007, out of 7965 households, 1552 were relocated, leaving 6413. Another 100 houses were demolished to make way for the electricity substation on Xitang street.

Although some 2000 households had moved, for the next nine years the majority of households were stalled in place, unable to leave. To renovate dilapidated houses would cost money,as much as 60,000 to 80,000 yuan per house. But if residents ended up moving sooner, that money would be wasted.

The deputy project manager at New World Reality said there are several problems: compensation amounts are not clearly determined in the plan, and there is a lack of replacement housing available. Although they are trying to take appropriate action, finding the replacement housing is difficult.

Now, in 2016, the district head Li Xianzhong has said that there must be a renewed effort to complete the areas around the Temple of Heaven. The residents of Chongwai #6 are greeting the news with happiness, but they are waiting to see an exact timetable for demolition.
Chongwai #6  崇外6号

konjaku: The following summarizes what has occurred in Chongwai#6 in 2017. Is it going to be turned into a “good example neighborhood” or is it going to be renovated?



Along with the thunderous boom of the excavator, the pale colored boards of one room after another tumble like toy building blocks. Yesterday afternoon, along the east side of Chongwai Road, at “Chongwai #6,” a stagnated redevelopment project that has started up and then lapsed into inactivity again many times, crews began the main task of demolishing illegal buildings. This stretch of 1600 square meters will be turned into a parking lot, convenient for residents, easing the parking problem for this neighborhood.

According to the local neighborhood committee deputy director, some of these buildings are over one hundred years old, although the majority are from the 1950s and 60s. The newest date from 1976, put up quickly after the Tangshan earthquake. Since then, no new buildings, no buildings built to code, have gone up in Chongwai#6. Except for the homes which residents have renovated themselves, the buildings are all illegal.

The deputy director said that by the end of this year, here and on surrounding streets and neighborhoods, there will be no more illegal buildings, no more homes converted without permission into storefronts, no more ads posted on walls –it will be turned into a “good example neighborhood.”

Reporter/photographer Wei Tong

As of 2017-07, the situation in Chongwai#6 is still uncertain, as seen in the following exchanges, on a Message Board for Local Leaders.


Hello, the redevelopment project for Chongwai#6 has been in existence for a long time. From 2007 up to the present, in these ten years it has not been completed. We common people think of how to allocate resources to the next generation and divide up the family property. Since there has been no demolition, our households are frozen in place. We cannot make any decisions on these matters. If you are going to demolish and move us out , go ahead and do it to your heart’s content. If you are not going to demolish, please don’t overlook Chongwai#6 and leave it in this frozen state. Thank you leaders! –No answer —

Dear Mayor, Hello! I am a resident of Chongwai #6. Today I heard that some representatives have been asked to fill out a form giving their opinions on demolition and transfer to new residences. Why is it that I and my neighbors know nothing about this? May I please ask, is this survey something that counts for something, or not? Is this something going on behind the scenes that we are not supposed to know about? Please help us, the residents of Chongwai#6 to protect our rights. Thank you.

Answer: response from a neighborhood committee member: I have checked with the residential district, and can confirm that the district did survey a random group of 500 families. At present the New World Corporation is still in charge of the demolition and relocation effort. The purpose of this questionnaire was to go a bit further in understanding the residents’ requirements. We are doing all we can to get the residents’ concerns on the process and report them faithfully to the higher authorities.The questionnaire has nothing to do with making decisions on how the demolition is to be done, or what the standards will be.

Thank you for your concern and support to Beijing City Building Management! We welcome your scrutiny of our work, and we value your suggestions.