Beijing denies reports on large-scale evictions
A senior Beijing official Wednesday denied foreign reports that about 300,000 residents had been evicted from their homes in the city to prepare for the 2008 Olympics.
"Such reports do not reflect the real condition of household resettlement in the massive urban construction in Beijing," Miao Leru, director of the Beijing Municipal Administration of State Land, Resources and Housing, told a press conference.
Miao handed out a Reuters report that said: "Nearly 100,000 families have been evicted so far in Beijing and thousands more evictions are expected."
"The truth is over 400,000 households have been relocated since 1991 and their housing area has soared from 20 square metres to 60 square metres per family on average," Miao said.
Miao admitted that in some cases demolition and removal were conducted illegally.
"But such illegal acts make up only a small percentage of demolitions and household resettlement," the official said.
During the first three quarters of last year, only four out of every 1,000 cases of demolitions were forced, said sources.
Miao stressed that those who conducted illegal demolitions have been held criminally responsible.
Compensation paid to relocated residents was higher than the average market value of similar real estate projects in the same area, he pointed out.
"For example, in the demolition project for the third phase of the World Trade Tower in Beijing, the price of real estate in the area was 3,800 yuan (US$459) to 5,760 yuan (US$696) per square metre. But the actual compensation for the residents there is 6,400 yuan (US$773) per square metre," he said.
Appraisal of the value of houses is conducted before demolition, according to him.
"If residents do not trust in the appraisal organization appointed by government, they can hire other organizations to do the work," he said.
Meanwhile, the official pointed out that the large-scale house demolition and household relocation are in tune with the capital city's long-term development, and are not merely for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
"A total of 6,000 households will be relocated due to the construction of Olympics venues. So far 5,000 families have been removed," he said.
Miao also denied rumours that real estate developers colluded with the government to profit from the demolition projects.
"We welcome reports over corruption in household relocation from the public," he said.
Zhai Zhenrong, 80, who lives in a residential compound in Beijing's Xuanwu District, said Wednesday: "I'm looking forward for the government to help us move out of here."
Having lived there for nearly 60 years, Zhai shares an old room of less than 20 square metres with her son, daughter-in-law and grandson.
The grandma said she was confident that the government would help her find a better place to live in after her original house is demolished.