Li vows anew to rebuild shan­ty­towns

Pre­mier says re­con­struc­tion will be dif­fi­cult un­less people work to­gether

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By ZHAO YINAN in Chifeng, In­ner Mon­go­lia and XU WEI in Bei­jing

Pre­mier Li Ke­qiang re­it­er­ated his pledge to rebuild more of the coun­try’s shan­ty­towns on Thurs­day dur­ing a visit to a run-down res­i­den­tial area in the In­ner Mon­go­lia au­ton­o­mous re­gion.

Li stressed his de­ter­mi­na­tion to trans­form the damp and un­san­i­tary liv­ing con­di­tions of nearly 100 mil­lion people dur­ing his visit to Chifeng, the re­gion’s most pop­u­lous city.

“We can’t let our people live in shanty houses while build­ing sky­scrapers on the other side of the road,” he told res­i­dents of the Tienan com­mu­nity. “It will be a dif­fi­cult project, un­less we’re in it to­gether.”

The pre­mier said in the Govern­ment Work Re­port to the an­nual ses­sion of the Na­tional People’s Congress this month that China will start the con­struc­tion of an­other 4.7 mil­lion apart­ments as part of an ef­fort to rebuild shan­ty­town ar­eas.

The Tienan com­mu­nity, an area of less than 500 square me­ters in down­town Chifeng, has 794 house­holds and 2,373 res­i­dents.

It was built in the early 1980s as tem­po­rary hous­ing for rail­way em­ploy­ees, but most of the res­i­dents have not been able to af­ford new houses or move out of the area, said Zhao Yurong, head of the ur­ban neigh­bor­hood com­mit­tee.

Paths made of earth and coke residue led the pre­mier’s way to lo­cal house­holds.

“It is com­mon to see here that fam­i­lies with two or even three gen­er­a­tions still live un­der one roof, and their only house is only about 30 square me­ters,” Zhao said.

The pre­mier vis­ited the house of Zhou Jingyou, 51, who has lived in the com­mu­nity for 20 years.

His semi- un­der­ground house has a small yard, where Zhou has set up a kitchen, and his wife uses the re­main­der of the yard to raise rab­bits and dry laun­dry. In­side, a coal stove burns in the liv­ing room, with a chim­ney pro­ject­ing through the win­dow.

Zhou lives in the 30-squareme­ter house, with his wife, daugh­ter and grand­son.

Dur­ing the rainy sea­son, wa­ter can stream into these semi-un­der­ground houses, Zhou said. An­other prob­lem is san­i­ta­tion, as the fam­ily has to share a toi­let with many other house­holds in the neigh­bor­hood.

Zhou, who only has a part­time job at a lo­cal rub­ber plant, said they could not buy an­other apart­ment be­cause of their limited in­come.

“We can only count on the govern­ment’s aid to move into a new apart­ment. Other­wise, it would be im­pos­si­ble for us to af­ford the mort­gage,” he said.

Zhou said the pre­mier told him about the govern­ment’s project to rebuild the area, and that fi­nan­cial aid will be pro­vided and some of the costs of a new house would be cov­ered.

“It gives us hope. We’re thrilled,” he said.

Sun Xiao­qin, who was also vis­ited by the pre­mier, had lived in the neigh­bor­hood with her hus­band for more than 13 years.

Sun said she was un­aware of the pre­mier’s visit on Thurs­day morn­ing and was sur­prised when he walked into her gro­cery store.

“He asked about our in­come, whether we had to pay taxes and whether our pub­lic tele­phone is still be­ing used by res­i­dents,” she said.

“Liv­ing here is the only choice for most house­holds here be­cause they can’t af­ford the rent or hous­ing prices any­where else,” she said.

China has about 100 mil­lion ur­ban res­i­dents in shan­ty­towns, and Li has promised to build at least 10 mil­lion homes for them by 2018.

As of 2013, China has im­proved the liv­ing ar­range­ments of 2.18 mil­lion house­holds in shan­ty­town ar­eas and em­barked on projects that could im­prove ac­com­mo­da­tions for an­other 3.23 mil­lion house­holds. Con­tact the writ­ers at zhaoy­i­nan@chi­nadaily.com.cn and xuwei@chi­nadaily.com.cn De­cem­ber 2004, Fushun, Liaon­ing prov­ince “You have my word on mov­ing into a high-rise apart­ment next time I come here,” Li Ke­qiang, the then-Party chief of Liaon­ing prov­ince, promised shan­ty­town res­i­dents, mark­ing the be­gin­ning of his pol­icy to build new homes for res­i­dents of shan­ty­towns. 2008 and 2009, Da­tong, Shanxi prov­ince “Mine work­ers put their work ahead of their lives, and now it’s time for the govern­ment to re­cover their loss,” Li said as he vis­ited shan­ty­towns in the Da­tong min­ing area twice in two con­sec­u­tive years. The re­build­ing of the area was com­pleted this year. June 2011, Men­tougou district, Bei­jing “It is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the Party and the govern­ment to help you im­prove your liv­ing con­di­tions,” Li said as he vis­ited the sub­ur­ban area in Bei­jing. The people liv­ing in the shan­ty­town area moved into new homes in 2012. Fe­bru­ary 2013, Bao­tou, In­ner Mon­go­lia au­ton­o­mous re­gion “The re­build­ing of shan­ty­towns is such an im­por­tant is­sue for the pub­lic that the govern­ment should carry it on de­spite any dif­fi­cul­ties,” Li said dur­ing a visit to a shan­ty­town com­mu­nity in Bao­tou. March 2013, Great Hall of the People, Bei­jing “This govern­ment is de­ter­mined to build at least 10 mil­lion homes for shan­ty­town res­i­dents in five years,” Li said dur­ing his first news con­fer­ence as pre­mier. June 2013, Zhong­nan­hai, the cen­tral govern­ment com­plex, Bei­jing The re­build­ing of shan­ty­towns can be de­vel­oped into a new eco­nomic driv­ing force for China, the State Coun­cil con­cluded at an ex­ec­u­tive meet­ing. The meet­ing urged gov­ern­ments to con­cen­trate the use of money on ma­jor projects and make use of credit fi­nanc­ing and so­cial funds in the re­build­ing. De­cem­ber 2013, Hongqiao district, Tian­jin “Shan­ty­towns are a na­tion­wide prob­lem in many cities, and the govern­ment should take tough mea­sures to in­crease fis­cal in­put and en­cour­age pri­vate cap­i­tal in­vest­ments in the re­build­ing of shan­ty­towns,” Li said dur­ing a visit to Tian­jin. March 2014, Chifeng, In­ner Mon­go­lia au­ton­o­mous re­gion “The govern­ment will speed up the re­build­ing of shan­ty­towns and push it onto a larger scale. We can­not tol­er­ate the scene of shan­ty­towns be­ing dwarfed by sky­scrapers in nearby cities.”

LIU ZHEN / CHINA NEWS SER­VICE

Pre­mier Li Ke­qiang checks the ceil­ing of a res­i­dent’s home in Tienan, a shan­ty­town in Chifeng, In­ner Mon­go­lia au­ton­o­mous re­gion, on Thurs­day. He said the govern­ment will fur­ther ren­o­vate shan­ty­towns and move res­i­dents to high-rise build­ings as soon as pos­si­ble.

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