July 1, 2008｜China
Research Fellow, Consulate-General of Japan in Shenyang
Currently Shenyang is caught up in a development rush. Walking the streets of Shenyang, all over there can be seen construction sites and areas slated for demolition. Regarding the amount of fixed asset investment for society as a whole in Shenyang City for 2007, at 236.19 billion yuan, it increased 31.9% on the previous year, its growth rate was above the 24.8% for the nation as a whole, and it has maintained a high growth rate of over 30% since 2002, continuing at 31.3% on the previous year of 2006.1 Within the fixed asset investment, the investment in the city constituted 95% of the total, up 32.0% on the previous year, and broken down by industry, primary, secondary and tertiary industries constituted 2%, 39% and 59%, respectively. By investing entity,2 private investment constituted 61% of the total, and in particular foreign investment and investment from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau had a high growth rate at 44.6% on the previous year. Additionally, the amount of real-estate development investment constituted 31% of the total, at 73.04 billion yuan, with an increase of 35.7% on the previous year it exceeded the 30.2% increase of 2006, and is on a continued trend of growth.
Within the major projects being undertaken at present, the work on a subway system and the Jinlang [Golden Corridor] construction can be raised. In terms of the work on the subway system, Lines 1 and 2 are under construction crossing the Shenyang urban area in an east-west and north-south arrangement, and construction work commenced in November 2005 and November 2006, respectively. Line 1 is planned to open and be in operation in the first half of 2010.3 In 2007 2.53 billion yuan was invested and the construction of all the stations for Line 1 and the whole of Line 2 was commenced. The Jinlang construction is a project4 for the construction of a “modern service-industry center”, in a zone 30 km in length running north-south through the center of the urban area, as the “Central Urban Belt” of Shenyang, and in the 11th Five-Year Plan for Shenyang it was presented on a par with the construction of the “Four Big Development Spaces”5 in the city. Presently in the area for Jinlang, at the same time as the construction site and planned site by Shenzhen and Hong Kong construction companies is becoming visible, the removals from relatively old groups of apartment blocks is progressing. At the scene of the removals, it is possible to see written on the walls of many apartment blocks “Support the Jinlang construction for Shenhe District to win glory”, “Sign the contract early, move house early, get the benefit early”, “Happily move out of an old home, joyfully move into a new home”, and “Demolish”, “Demolish”, “Demolish” …,6 and the sight of demolition work and the removal of residents progressing at a rapid pace can be spied.
Meanwhile, related to the removal of residents accompanying the development, as it is too expensive people are unable to purchase nearby property with the compensation payments for the removals involving the demolition of the apartment blocks along Qingnian Dajie [Youth Avenue] (the central tract for Jinlang), and because they would have to move to the suburbs there are even now some residents who resist the removals, and there are rumors that illegal acts are still being undertaken toward them to hurry along the removals.7 Regarding the rise in the prices of nearby property, according to the “Economic Information Daily” dated 11 April (Internet version)8 the increase of the area for removals and also the rise in the compensation payments for removals have been brought up as one of the reasons. According to the same report, it is reported that while the compensation payments for removals via the demolition of homes along Qingnian Dajie has reached a historic high of 6,900 yuan per square meter, the price of old condominiums nearby has been rising continuously (the price per square meter for an old condominium in 2007 rose 11.96% on the previous year): for certain condominiums the rise has been 8,900–9,000 yuan per square meter, more than 5,000 yuan even for condominiums built more than ten years ago, and in the case of those with a good location the rise is more than 10,000 yuan, particularly along Qingnian Dajie. In the rise in price of condominiums, while various other factors can be seen at work, the compensation payments for removals which protect residents have risen, and with development costs going up, if a section of the area’s residents have further difficulty in finding new homes as nearby as possible, then along with sensing the ironic side of market principles, I will be concerned yet further as to where the overall benefits of the development and removals end up.
In the “Property Rights Law” which went into effect in October last year the property rights (ownership rights, etc.) of the state, groups and individuals received equal legal protection. Moreover, regarding removals, they are to be carried out in accordance with the authority and method legally prescribed for the “public good”, and further, it has been stipulated that, in accordance with the law, reparation must be made, the legitimate interests of those removed must be protected, and the condition of residences must be guaranteed. Before the enactment and coming into force of the “Property Rights Law” there were many instances of the problems related to removals being reported in the newspapers in Japan also. More than eight months has passed after its coming into force, and while I can’t help but think that at least in Shenyang the urban-area development will still continue, I think that it is necessary to continue to focus attention on the circumstances of the law’s actual implementation and the circumstances of each area. At the same time, amid development at a level where the cityscape will go on changing drastically, I think that the continued keeping in mind of in what form and where the “public interest” of which the “Property Rights Law” speaks will actually be returned is important.
Demolition site along Qingnian Dajie;
afterwards large-scale commercial facilities are to be built.
(Photographed by the author on 14 June 2008)
(This piece contains the personal views of the author, and does not represent the official position of the Japanese government, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, or the Consulate-General of Japan in Shenyang.)
[Translated by ERINA]