Shenzhen residents in compensation protest

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 October, 2007, 12:00am

About 100 Shenzhen residents, many now living in Hong Kong, staged a sit-in in Shenzhen yesterday to demand that authorities stop developers bulldozing their ancestral homes before a compensation deal is reached.

Residents of Futian district's Gangxiacun community unfurled protest banners there about 2pm, claiming the compensation package local authorities had approved was unfair.

The villagers abandoned their sit-in about 4pm after officials arrived and promised to meet the demonstrators' representatives.

Dozens of police officers monitored the crowd, but nobody was arrested or hurt during the protest. The villagers said they were trying to solve the dispute peacefully and patiently in meetings with government officials.

The clearance of 450 houses in the village is part of the Shenzhen and Central Business District project, which is set to become the city's commercial heart. The land will be used by government-backed developers to build department stores, commercial office buildings and high-end housing.

Men Tou-shun, a former villager and a long-time Hong Kong resident, said they were prepared to take further action, including mounting bigger protests for better compensation.

'The current compensation package is that all villagers would be relocated in the same area after reconstruction.

'The authorities will offer us about 88 square metres of new accommodation as compensation for each 100 square metres of old property. We should be relocated with the original area, and given one square metre of new property for every square metre of old property.'

Guo Pengsheng, deputy director of Futian Redevelopment Bureau, said the authorities would help the villagers negotiate with the developers.

'The compensation price is not confirmed yet,' Mr Guo said. 'Most of the villagers' buildings were constructed before 1999. To be honest, the deal we offered is good enough if you count depreciation.'

A property agent said each villager would be a multimillionaire under the current compensation package. 'Relocation in the same area is the best result for the villagers,' he said. 'The area will be the centre of the downtown in the future. Now the average price around there has climbed to 26,000 yuan per square metre.'

The agent said the authorities had given many concessions, compared with other clearance and reconstruction projects, to push the project ahead.

The government originally allowed each family to keep a piece of land for their use and many used the allocations to build homes and rent them out. With the land shortage problem worsening, the Shenzhen government is trying to reclaim the land or buy blocks from residents. Disputes over ownership and compensation have caused protests.

Mr Men said many villagers had come back to the community from Hong Kong and overseas to protect their property rights.

'We won't sell our houses without a satisfactory price,' he said.