Puppy par­adise lost?

Tongzhou may be rolling over as the ca­nine cap­i­tal of China

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - Con­tact the writer at du­juan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Bei­jing has to re­move some func­tions to its nearby cities and towns to re­al­ize bet­ter de­vel­op­ment.

Lian Yum­ing, pres­i­dent of the Bei­jing In­ter­na­tional City De­vel­op­ment Re­search In­sti­tute

Un­der the sum­mer sun, be­hind a sign on which the words have peeled off, only a few shops are still open. In­side, sev­eral dogs lie lazily, wait­ing to be fed.

The other shops are ei­ther aban­doned, or their own­ers only avail­able through the tele­phone num­bers on no­tices stuck to the doors.

Fur­ther in­side, wild grass is re­claim­ing the land where there used to be a mar­ket for pet sup­plies.

This is what used to be North China’s largest pet dog mar­ket looks like now.

Of­fi­cially named Dong­fang-xin Pet Par­adise, but more com­monly called Liyuan Dog Mar­ket be­cause of its lo­ca­tion, the mar­ket is lo­cated in Bei­jing’s south­east Tongzhou dis­trict.

Now, only a dozen or so shops are still open at the dog mar­ket, as it is of­fi­cially closed — the site is to be re­de­vel­oped as part of the govern­ment’s grand plan to trans­form the dis­trict into an ad­min­is­tra­tive sub-cen­ter and cul­tural dis­trict.

“Some­times we can hardly sell one dog for a whole day,” said Guo Jishi, co-owner of one of the shops still open in the mar­ket, told China Daily. “But it’s low sea­son any­way in the sum­mer be­cause it’s so hot.”

He said the owner of the mar­ket has been com­pen­sated for the pro­posed move and many of the shop own­ers ac­tu­ally moved out last sum­mer, but some of the them got called back by the owner of the mar­ket as he claimed he hadn’t re­ceived all the com­pen­sa­tion he was promised.

“At least I’ll stay here for this month as the rent has been col­lected,” said Guo. “If they col­lect the rent next month then I’ll keep on go­ing, but we’ll see what hap­pens.”

How­ever, the re­main­ing shop own­ers are fully aware that it’s just a mat­ter of time be­fore they have to say good­bye to the place.

“I have been work­ing and liv­ing here for more than 10 years since my daugh­ter mar­ried and moved to this area,” said a dog shop owner sur­named Li. “But I have my own dog farm and will con­tinue the busi­ness when we move to an­other place.”

Good times, bad times

The mar­ket emerged in the 1980s and grew in size as the in­creas­ing num­ber of cus­tomers at­tracted a grow­ing num­ber of sell­ers. Even­tu­ally at the be­gin­ning of this cen­tury the mu­nic­i­pal govern­ment made it le­gal. This led to the­mar­ket’s hey­day when it was home to hun­dreds of shops and stalls sell­ing all kinds of dogs.

Now it is fi­nally clos­ing for good, as the mu­nic­i­pal govern­ment plans to trans­form the site into a cul­tural tourist at­trac­tion that “sur­passes Tokyo Dis­ney­land and Seoul Lotto World”.

From the map on the dis­trict’s of­fi­cial web­site, the dog mar­ket lies about 2 kilo­me­ters from a planned Univer­sal Stu­dio theme park, which is ex­pected to open in the area in 2019. An of­fi­cial from the town­ship’s ur­ban plan­ning di­vi­sion con­firmed that the mar­ket is “in­side the ra­dius that is to be de­mol­ished to make way for the theme park”.

How­ever, even be­fore the govern­ment’s re­de­vel­op­ment plan, the dog mar­ket had al­ready put its best days be­hind it, as it started to lose cus­tomers after it de­vel­oped a bad rep­u­ta­tion for un­scrupu­lous ven­dors know­ingly sell­ing sick an­i­mals or doc­tor­ing dogs to make them re­sem­ble more valu­able breeds.

“I was ashamed of say­ing that I was a mer­chant there dur­ing that time,” said an owner sur­named Yang dur­ing an in­ter­view with Bei­jing Morn­ing Post last Novem­ber.

Pres­sure re­lease plan

The re­de­vel­op­ment of the dog mar­ket to make way for the theme park is just part of Bei­jing’s plan to re­de­velop Tongzhou dis­trict, which is slated to be­come a sub­sidiary ad­min­is­tra­tive cen­ter of Bei­jing with the re­lo­ca­tion of non­core ad­min­is­tra­tive func­tions from the city cen­ter.

In ad­di­tion to the dog mar­ket, the clothes whole­sale mar­ket near Bei­jing Zoo and some mu­nic­i­pal­ity-af­fil­i­ated col­leges are to be de­mol­ished to make way for the new ad­min­is­tra­tive build­ings.

Lian Yum­ing, pres­i­dent of the Bei­jing In­ter­na­tional City De­vel­op­ment Re­search In­sti­tute, ex­plained that the re­de­vel­op­ment of the area would help re­duce the pres­sures on the city cen­ter.

“Bei­jing has to re­move some func­tions from the cen­ter to re­al­ize bet­ter de­vel­op­ment,” he said.

The Bei­jing mu­nic­i­pal govern­ment of­fices and af­fil­i­ated in­sti­tu­tions are to be shifted grad­u­ally to Tongzhou to make the city’s cen­tral area less crowded and Tongzhou will be­come a sub­sidiary ad­min­is­tra­tive cen­ter for the cap­i­tal and pro­mote the re­gional in­te­gra­tion of Bei­jing, Tian­jin and He­bei.

It’s a chal­leng­ing task since the project will in­volve both the govern­ment, mar­ket and the cit­i­zens.

“Dur­ing the process, we need to be pa­tient. How­ever, it can’t wait,” Lian said.

PHO­TOS BY ZOU HONG / CHINA DAILY

Liyuan Dog Mar­ket, once the largest pet dog mar­ket in North China, is now of­fi­cially closed as the site is to be re­de­vel­oped.

A buyer checks out some pooches in Liyuan Dog Mar­ket in Au­gust.

Guo Jishi is the co-owner of one of the shops in Liyuan dog mar­ket.

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