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Olympics driving mass evictions

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.

Reader Comments


December 6, 2007 10:22 PM

total evictions will reach 1.5 million by the time the Games start next August.

What I can say is that this is a brainless number. Let me tell you: It took CHinese government long-time hard work to relocate about 1.2 million people for the three-gorge project. Don't forget that's a very poor mountainous area. Is that so easy to move 1.5 million in much richer Beijing?

Anyone believe in this number is non-brainer too.


December 7, 2007 2:00 AM

uh oh -another crap rights advocacy group aka nothing better else to do people inflating numbers to serve their purpose....yawn


December 7, 2007 8:40 AM

There is always so many people who find fault with China. But there is so much good to say about China also! There is no nation on Earth who has led its people out of poverty quickier! China has become an innovative in a much faster time than other Asian economies. Given time China will take of its of flaws instead of just satisfying critics!

Da Man

December 7, 2007 12:03 PM

CNN Posted this question on their Beijing Olympic special section "Have the preparations for the 2008 Olympics made Beijing a better place to live and visit?"

Yes 71% 1771
No 29% 713
Total Votes: 2484

These advocacy group has got to stop creating these negative press for China. China is a developing country, and of course it will experience its share of social and infrastructural changes. These kind of press does nothing to help the world.

Not brainwashed yet

December 21, 2007 5:37 PM

I can't believe all the bullsh!t I'm reading in these comments.
Steven and Bill, pull your heads out of the sand already.
"China has become an innovative in a much faster time than other Asian economies." WTF?! It's a nation that proves time and again that its best skill is to steal technologies from other countries, and reverse-engineer them into cheaper, lower-quality products! China is run by a small, crooked bunch of fat cats. All their prosperity is built on the backs of mostly illiterate, poor working citizens. The same people who are being evicted from their homes, who do not have internet access, and who do not have a voice in your stupid CNN polls. You cannot summarily dismiss them.
Comments like yours make me sick to my stomach. Advocacy groups only exist because there's a clear need for help. I don't know if the numbers are accurate - but even if they are inflated, this is NOT a humane way of procuring land to prepare for the Olympics. It's transparently sleazy.

what is wrong with our world

April 1, 2008 12:50 PM

I agree with you Not Brainwashed. I can not believe this is happening for a bunch of "Games" and money. It makes me sick to think that people are so cruel.What can we do about this?? Please I want to help. We are praying for all the people in China.

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