threats against land transfer holdouts in buji?

In Shenzhen, village renovation and urban renewal involve transferring land use rights from villages and housing rights from homeowners to developers, which have won project bids from the government. Importantly, the developers must negotiate compensation packages both with village corporations (if transferring collectively held property) and with individual homeowners. Compensation packages include monetary compensation for housing and land, compensation for moving expenses, and compensation for livelihood losses. Here’s the point – even though compensation for housing type and land use is standardized, compensation for moving expenses and livelihood losses are negotiated, opening a space for differential treatment and corruption.

In terms of land transfer, the relationship between the villages and developers is unequal because (1) the development companies represent the municipal government insofar as they have one a bid to complete some part of the urban plan and therefore (2) villagers must negotiate a transfer rather than put in a bid to develop the land themselves. All this to say, the negotiating skills of both the village and development representatives as well as the general honesty of those representatives are critical to the compensation packages that individual villagers receive.

Threats against holdouts constitute one of the more unsavory aspects of these negotiations. Several days ago, there was a tudou video report that a coffin had been delivered to the door of a family in Zhangshubu Village, Buji (part of the mass renovation project mentioned in a previous post). The video is interesting because it shows the extent to which Buji has been undeveloped these past thirty years, how tenacious these negotiations are, as well as how much room for negotiation and renegotiation the process accommodates. It is also interesting for its familial rhetoric — the report clearly sides with the holdouts. In other words, I can’t tell the origin of this video and am classifying under rumor, that catch all phrase for stories I hear that ring true, can’t be verified and yet nevertheless constitute an important element in the sense that Shenzhen is “chaotic” or “unsafe”. Translation of the tudou video, below:

Yesterday (April 26), Aunt Peng of Zhangshubu Village, Nanwan Precinct, Buji opened her door after breakfast and was surprised to find a coffin just outside. What actually happened? Let’s find out.

Aunt Peng of #8 Nanyuan Zone, Zhangshubu Village said that at 6 a.m. she and her husband had just gotten up, when they say that a coffin was placed in front of their front door. At about 9 a.m, over 20 unidentified people surrounded them and tried to take the coffin away.

Aunt Peng’s husband, Uncle Deng said, since August last year (2010), when Zhangshubu Village began urban renovation, he has discussed the compensation package with development representatives over thirty times. For the past 1/2 year, unidentified people have set fire to their home, cut their electrical wires, followed them, and set off fire crackers. Just last Friday, Uncle Deng was threatened because of a failed negotiation.

Aunt Peng’s daughter, Miss Peng said that their ancestors were Indonesian Overseas Chinese. Compensation should include money for the house as well as for the courtyard, coming to roughly 2.7 million yuan, however the developers only want to give 1.1 million.

Yesterday (April 26) at around 11 a.m., representatives from the developers came to Aunt Deng’s house, taking the coffin and “running like craze”. Afterwards, this reporter found the Julong Wan Real Estate Development Company representatives, but a person who called himself legal council denied that the developers had anything to do with the coffin.

However, Miss Deng countered this claim, saying that in previous negotiations, this legal council was onsite. Moreover, this reporter has learned that Miss Deng’s family is not the only family dealing with this situation.

2 thoughts on “threats against land transfer holdouts in buji?

  1. Just finished some interviews in Beijing, where I heard about neighbors who have lived in the same hutong for decades, now viewed as untrustworthy in their reports on individual negotiations with local government representatives for compensation for their homes just south of Tian’anmen. Not sure who exactly was rep’ing the government side, since interviews were not on that topic…could it even be direct talks with developers? Not sure. But the families seem to be going in waves 波, and there’s ongoing calculation about how to pick the right time to leave…not so early that you won’t get the best price, but not so late that you’ll piss people off and get less as a result. And no neighbor necessarily will tell the truth, because the reps tell you not to, and they tell you that they’re giving you a special price, but only you, and you must not mention it to anyone else.

  2. Interesting; thank you for sharing. Does the BJ government directly enter into the negotiation? I ask because in Shenzhen unless the developer is a government company, then the government – developer negotiation is separate from the developer – village negotiation. In other words, different levels of government (municipal, district, precinct) have “plans” that are developed by companies that bid on the job (and there are government contacts online for making bids or getting the paperwork to make bids; also urban plans can be found online). However, the actual job is carried out by the developer in accordance with the law; so at this level of negotiation government participation is a question of oversight.

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