Chinese farmers are “growing houses” instead of growing food
What is this picture about? Why is this poor woman being blocked out by hundreds of Chengguan (City Urban Administrative and Law Enforcements)? [Netease] On December 17, Wuhan City organized over 800 law enforcement officers to forcefully demolish nearly 40,000 square meters of illegal buildings that are near the Wuhan City to Huangshi City railway construction site. The phenomenon of local famers rushing to “grow houses” is very common.
What does “growing houses” mean?
It is yet another unique phenomenon in China, formed in the last couple of years of amazingly fast social and economic development. When the entire nation is being modernized, countless high raises are erected every year, cities are expending and county’s infrastructures are also expending in order to support the economic growth. Highways, railroads and airports; bridges, tunnels and subway systems… are being built in almost every corner in China. This means some of the existing residential and farmland in the rural areas might be in the blue-print of a governments’ huge project. The government pays for development compensations for every house they have to tear down in order to build the development project. This motivated the farmers to build houses everywhere in the rural area of China. When some of them are permitted by the government but most are illegally and cheaply built. They even start to build houses in the agricultural fields therefore people say the farmers are “growing houses” instead of growing food.
Why do the farmers “grow houses”? The answer is simple, to gain enormous profits when the time comes. They admit the fact that they are “gambling on development”. Usually development compensations are standardized, the standard amount of the compensation is usually more than double of the cost of these “planted houses”, especially if they are building them cheaply and not up to the standards.
Sounds easy enough? But you may ask if these houses are built illegally, shouldn’t the government have the rights to tear them down without giving them any compensation? Don’t they regulate these illegal houses? The answer is yes, government’s development compensation is only for legal buildings, for those illegal buildings, not only there is no compensation, the houses will be forcefully demolished also. Then why are the farmers still doing this?
If it was really that simple, then this trend of “growing houses” would not exist today. The farmers use persistence and the weaknesses within the local government to win the battles. They are persistent when local government tries to stop them from building illegal houses. The government sometimes would send people to forcefully tear down the illegal houses. However, some of these houses have no foundations and the brick walls are put together with just mud. When the house gets tore down, residents would rebuilt it overnight, the house comes back the next day again. It’s like cutting weeds, they just grow back.
If an illegal house is not torn down in time, after three, five years, new house becomes old house. Not only it already has become the farmers’ home, it also develops into a community of illegal houses. This community is quite prosperous. It is not only populated with great number of residents but it also develops streets, markets and so on facilities. Now facing the highly populated and economically active community, demolition of this place is not so easy anymore. In order to avoid further complications compensations must be given for large scale of eviction and demolition. Then it becomes like a de facto marriage that the government tacitly approves.
The farmers also use strategies like build first and get the permits later or build on top of the existing legal buildings. They build residencies in their vegetable fields; build a second floor or even a third floor on top of their existing one story house as long as the foundation can hold it. And of course, there is always corruption, in some of the towns even the local government officials themselves are growing houses. Obtaining building permits can be achieved through “connections” and bribery.
Not all farmers can strike rich from “growing houses”, that’s why they call it “gambling on the government development”. If it is a gamble, that means sometimes the farmers lose, that is when the government is determined enough to send an “army” to deal with the farmers to demolish the illegal buildings.
Now back to the news:
On December 17, Wuhan City organized over 800 law enforcement officers to forcefully demolish nearly 40,000 square meters of illegal buildings that are near the Wuhan City to Huangshi City railway construction site. The phenomenon of local famers rushing to “grow houses” is very common.
Protesting the forceful demolition, a farmer woman was blocked out by hundreds Chengguan (city management) from her illegally built building.
Farmers took out wheels from a truck in attempt to stop the demolition team.
The “planted” houses are glued together with mud. Experts pointed out that farmers “grow houses” are directly motivated by profits, however a deeper reason was because they fear for their lives after losing their land to the government project. In order to stop the root of the “growing houses” problem, the government should make efforts to find employment opportunities for the farmers and include them into the new city lives.
Farmers are picking wood from demolished buildings.
Over tens of thousands square meters of houses were demolished
Related news from Zhengwu:
Recently, a reader reported that someone is building houses in the dark at night near the outskirts of Wuhan train station. Yesterday 6 pm, reporter secretly visited the site and found the construction was in full swing. Around 30 workers were transporting bricks. Some of them were working on the wall. There were 7 -8 newly built houses near the construction site.
Factory worker Mr. Wang who had lived here for over 30 years said, here is very close to the Wuhan train station. There were rumors said it will be developed by the government. The villagers all started to “grow” houses after hearing this news. Just one night, hundreds of square meters of vegetable field turned into a row of houses. These houses were made of red bricks, the windows and doors were made of recycled waste materials. They were very poorly built and could not be lived in.
The reporter saw in a distance, two workers are working on the ongoing tunnel construction outside of the Wuhan railway station.