If you were a mid-level bureaucrat in charge of land use planning for the city, and completion of a new housing project was being held up by one remaining resident of substandard housing where his community used to be, would you send in the bulldozers or keep raising your buyout offer until it matches his?
Guanghzou has had its share of nail houses over the past decade, from ‘mass incidents’ in Huangpu to elderly men threatening to turn suicide bomber in Liwan. There was another showdown this week as the evacuation deadline arrived for Mr. Yao (left), the single last resident of what used to be Xiong township, Yangji village, in Guangzhou’s Yuexiu district.
After ten hours, the standoff between Yao and authorities ended quietly at just before noon on Tuesday after more than two hours of negotiations held on the roof of Yao’s house. A compensation agreement was signed, Yao’s protest banners were taken down from the side of the house, and all his belongings were hauled into a moving truck waiting nearby. Hope he got a good deal, see more photos from and a play-by-play of Tuesday morning here.
It was noted, incidentally, that pissed-off former neighbors of Yao’s put about as much pressure on him as authorities did. Many have been renting in the year since they left their properties last summer when demolition began, and are anxious to see the new home they receive as part of the compensation package. A number of the more elderly former residents have also passed away in the meantime.
And, this was not just your typical developer vs. refusenik story, but rather one of Guangzhou’s few remaining chengzhongcuns: neighborhoods in the city considered by many to be living testaments to its heritage as well as homes to the diverse communities which give Guangzhou character and its accommodating reputation.
Preservation of these communities is also a cause which local media have strongly taken to over the past few years, but the only promise city hall has made is to leave the urban village in Shipai more or less as it is now. Most of the other inner-city villages in Guangzhou are already gone.