Built not to last

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By JIN HAIXING jin­haix­ing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

De­mo­li­tion starts at a mas­sive, il­le­gally built villa on top of an apart­ment build­ing in Bei­jing.

De­mo­li­tion of a rock-cov­ered rooftop villa on a 26-story Bei­jing apart­ment block be­gan on Thurs­day, three days af­ter it was ruled il­le­gal by ur­ban patrol of­fi­cers and or­dered to be re­moved.

Work­ers be­gan pulling down the villa in the morn­ing. It was adorned with trees and bushes and cov­ered more than 800 square me­ters in Haid­ian dis­trict.

The au­thor­i­ties sent ex­perts to guide and su­per­vise the de­mo­li­tion to en­sure the rest of the build­ing was not af­fected, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment re­leased by Haid­ian cheng­guan, or ur­ban patrol of­fi­cers.

On Mon­day, Zhang Biqing, the owner, was or­dered to dis­man­tle the dec­o­ra­tions and build­ing on top of the apart­ments in the Renji Shanzhuang com­mu­nity within 15 days, ac­cord­ing to a no­tice is­sued by Haid­ian cheng­guan.

Cheng­guan said Zhang promised to de­mol­ish the il­le­gal build­ing on time when they con­tacted him by phone while he was on a trip to Yun­nan prov­ince.

Zhang told China Daily the il­le­gal part of the build­ing only oc­cu­pied 40 to 50 square me­ters. He built a mound, dot­ted with ar­ti­fi­cial rocks and green­ery, to solve a prob­lem with the kitchen ex­haust pipe sys­tem, built on the top of the apart­ment.

He said he had lit­tle knowl­edge about the le­gal process in­volved in ob­tain­ing ap­proval for the pro­ject when the work started in 2007.

Zhang con­firmed there was a swim­ming pool above the apart­ment, but said it was only there to make use of the space and was rel­a­tively small, oc­cu­py­ing about 10 sq m.

The Mir­ror news­pa­per re­ported that Zhang hired the same team of work­ers who built the house in 2007 for the de­mo­li­tion.

Many of his neigh­bors had com­plained about lav­ish rooftop add-ons since 2007. They later said Zhang also liked to play loud mu­sic and sing late at night.

Lan Bing, whose fam­ily used to live on the 26th floor near Zhang’s house, said in a state­ment on Thurs­day that her fa­ther had been beaten three times by Zhang dur­ing dis­putes about the il­le­gal con­struc­tion.

Zhang had told the me­dia that he paid Lan’s fam­ily 100,000 yuan ($16,400) in com­pen­sa­tion, but Lan dis­missed this.

“Up to now, our fam­ily has not re­ceived any com­pen­sa­tion from Zhang,” Lan said on Thurs­day.

As the de­mo­li­tion be­gan, a poster was hung in the com­mu­nity by a res­i­dent, stat­ing, “We sup­port the ex­po­sure of this case and we ask for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the de­part­ments and peo­ple who are re­spon­si­ble for the il­le­gal build­ing.”

Guan Dong­sheng, who lives on the 12th floor of the block, said, “The most danger­ous part was the swim­ming pool, which placed heavy pres­sure on the apart­ment build­ing.”

Pho­to­graphs and videos of the swim­ming pool were re­leased on Thurs­day.

Pic­tures of the villa were uploaded onto a mi­cro blog this month, trig­ger­ing a pub­lic out­cry, with many In­ter­net users also ques­tion­ing Zhang’s claim that he was a doc­tor qual­i­fied to treat pa­tients.

Bei­jing’s in­dus­try and com­merce ad­min­is­tra­tion has also in­ves­ti­gated acupunc­ture clinic chains founded by Zhang.

A spokes­woman for the ad­min­is­tra­tion said it will re­lease the in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­sult on Fri­day. Yan Ran con­trib­uted to this story.


Work­ers be­gin the de­mo­li­tion of the rock-cov­ered rooftop villa in Bei­jing’s Haid­ian dis­trict on Thurs­day, three days af­ter the dis­trict’s ur­ban patrol of­fi­cers deemed the struc­ture il­le­gal and or­dered it re­moved.

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