Posted by: Dexter Roberts on December 5, 2007
Uh oh—here comes a bit more bad publicity for Beijing in the run-up to next year’s Olympics. Already under fire following reports that China is collecting a database on all journalists planning to cover the 2008 games, now a Geneva-based housing rights advocacy group has issued a report criticizing China for massive Olympics-related evictions. The Center on Housing Rights and Evictions says that China is kicking 13,000 people out of their homes every month to clear land for Olympics venues, and that the total evictions will reach 1.5 million by the time the Games start next August.
Beijing is justly proud of some of its more architecturally intruiging Olympics construction, including the Bird’s Nest stadium and Water Cube swimming and diving venue. And of course, eminent domain arguably is a key right of any government, as it tries to build an attractive city for a larger public. But a big problem in Beijing, and indeed across the mainland, is how evictions are managed. And in China’s rush to modernize, there are an enormous number of evictions happening.
As the report puts it: “evictions in Beijing often involve the complete demolition of poor peoples’ houses. The inhabitants are then forced to relocate far from their communities and workplaces, with higher transportation costs driving them further into poverty.
“In Beijing, and in China more generally, the process of demolition and eviction is characterized by arbitrariness and lack of due process. In many cases, tenants are given little or no notice of their eviction and do not receive the promised compensation,” the report continues.
Beijing has denied the scale of the evictions—an official said the numbers cited by the housing rights group are way too high. Earlier this year, Beijing said that in total some 40,000 people were being moved a year. Regardless of what the actual number is, lets at least hope this latest report puts added pressure on local officials to properly treat and compensate those residents that are losing their homes and being moved.