Evicted villagers stage mass break-in to seize new Beijing apartments ‘as compensation’

They left old homes for a 'new deal', but after years in limbo, doors were easily defeated

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 May, 2014, 12:55pm
UPDATED : Friday, 23 May, 2014, 2:29am

When you've been waiting a few decades for moving day, insisting on the formality of a key may seem a bit precious.

At least that's how it struck thousands of eager would-be homeowners in a Beijing suburb as they broke into new flats - built as compensation for the village homes they left years earlier, the Beijing Times reported.

Some had been waiting since 1995, the year Sun Cayun propelled herself into the history books with a record-breaking 4.12 metre indoor pole vault.

The scene in the capital's suburbs was only slightly less exalted.

The new flats came courtesy - in a manner of speaking - of a property developer who had plans for the village land, according to the report.

Moving day wasn't really sanctioned. The homeowners appeared to embrace a first-come, first-serve "open house" ethic.

Their occupation of the flats began at around 9am yesterday. By 6pm, a relative quiet had settled over the suburb, as residents searched for bedding for the night.

And so the legend of Jiaowang village in Tongzhou county was written; how residents forced their way into the 336 flats, divided between two apartment buildings, with some staking claims by tagging front doors with their names, while others wandered off empty-handed into the gathering dusk.

According to one villager involved in the scramble, the demolition of their former homes began in 1995.

Under an original compensation plan, widely accepted by villagers at the time, a new property based on family size and the value of their demolished homes and land would be forthcoming once they signed on the dotted line.

Villagers could also buy an additional 57-square-metre flat at 1,350 yuan per square metre - a price that'd make today's Beijinger, facing multiples of that figure, weep with envy.

The best thing about it was that the price was set in stone, immune to the fluctuations of the mainland property market.

A villager told the Beijing Times he had five new flats coming after his eight-member family agreed to leave in 2008. He's only received two - even though the flats stand ready.

As one might expect, the police made an appearance, but encountered some difficulty creating order from the mayhem.

A county spokesman said officials were not aware of the break-in, but it was widely reported by news websites, and even Xinhua noted the fracas over flats in passing.