Li Fengxian

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 July, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 July, 2008, 12:00am

Li Fengxian, 60, a mathematics graduate from Heilongjiang University, is one of thousands in Beijing losing their homes to the wrecking ball thanks to the city's Olympics preparations. She has great faith in what the government will do to compensate her.

Are you looking forward to the Olympics?

Of course. It will be great for China.

But because of the Olympics, your shop is being knocked down to make way for a new street.

Yes that's true.

What kind of shop is yours?

We sell antique furniture. This shop was very famous once, it used to sell a very fine kind of paint. It was red and protected wood. We had to stop selling it because some people had some kind of allergic reaction to it, but after the reform and opening-up policies we started selling it again. People used to come from all over to buy it. Only my late husband's brother knows how to make it now. We don't sell paint any more, but the shop is still here. Now we sell jade as well as classical furniture.

How long has this shop been in your family?

Actually it was in my late husband's family. It belonged to his grandparents. It was taken off them by the [communists], but it was all sorted out legally and belongs to me now. My husband died 10 years ago.

Do you live here as well?

Yes, just upstairs. I have a 22-year-old son who's about to graduate from university, where he is studying cultural protection. The plan was that I would run the store for my son until he could take it over. Foreigners really like the stuff we sell.

So you will lose your home, your business and your son's prospects in one fell sweep when the wrecking ball comes. You don't seem upset - in fact, you're smiling.

I support and trust the government and their policies. They haven't said how much compensation they will give us, but I believe they will give us enough. I think they will make sure a good job is done of this street.

What will be here when the work's done?

Lots of foreign brands, I hear - perfume, designer clothes, companies I've never heard of. But they will be put in nice new buildings with Chinese characteristics, so it will look like a traditional Chinese street.

And you think this is a good idea despite losing your home and business?

The Olympics is a great thing for China. The street will look good for all the foreign tourists. I trust the government. They will look after me. Anyway, the buildings would have fallen down in time, so the government is improving them before it happens. If they didn't do it, we would have had to do it ourselves. Look, all my neighbours have gone, it's not the same here any more. Sure there are some side effects to this progress, but on the whole it's a great improvement.