Guangzhou’s Yangjicun Gradually Demolished for Redevelopment

Guangzhou's Yangjicun with vast tracts of buildings already demolished and cleared.

Guangzhou's Yangjicun at dusk before demolition began in 2010.

From NetEase:

Guangzhou’s disappearing Yangjicun

2010 July 1st, demolition of Guangzhou’s Yangjicun [Yangji Village] began, the first hammer blow ringing throughout Yangjicun’s north-south old street — Xiongzhen Avenue. On the old street’s west and east sides were 15 and 6 crisscrossing alleys. After over a year of demolitions, the residents here have all scattered “to the ends of the earth”.

[Above] 2010 July 14th, Yangjicun at dusk, where scattered lights appear only along one alley.

[Click to enlarge and for slideshow.]

Guangzhou's Yangjicun at dusk as demolition began for its redevelopment.

2010 July 14th, from the rooftop of a nearby building overlooking Yangjicun, the densely packed buildings covering every single inch of the land.

Guangzhou's Yangjicun with vast tracts of buildings already demolished and cleared.

2010 August 17th, a month after the demolitions began, already large tracts of buildings have been flattened.

Guangzhou's Yangjicun with vast tracts of buildings already demolished and cleared.

2010 August 26th dusk, the lights of Zhongshan interchange and Guangzhou Avenue shine brightly while a few rare lights also appear amongst the not yet demolished buildings of Yangjicun.

Guangzhou's Yangjicun with vast tracts of buildings already demolished and cleared.

2011 February 15th dusk, dump trucks transporting construction waste and sludge working overnight.

A few remaning buildings or "nail houses" in Guangzhou's Yangjicun.

2011 May 11th, Yangjicun in the midst of heavy rains, with only a few buildings still standing amongst the rubble.

A few remaning buildings or "nail houses" in Guangzhou's Yangjicun as lightning flashes across the evening sky.

2011 May 11th, lightning pierces the dusk sky, as few buildings remain in Yangjicun.

A few remaning buildings or "nail houses" in Guangzhou's Yangjicun.

2012 January 16th, only ten-something buildings remain standing amongst the rubble of Yangjicun, with ten-something households spending Spring Festival guarding their old homes.

A former resident of Yangjicun standing in front of his old home with a poster of the future redeveloped Yangjicun.

Former resident Li Fengyin takes a photo in front of his old home with an artist’s rendering of [the future redeveloped] Yangjicun.

A former resident of Yangjicun standing in front of her old home with a poster of the future redeveloped Yangjicun.

Former resident Li Jie’e takes a photo in front of her old home with an artist’s portrayal of [the future redeveloped] Yangjicun.

A former resident of Yangjicun standing in front of her old home with a poster of the future redeveloped Yangjicun.

Former resident Liang Yongquan takes a photo in front of her old home with an artist’s rendering of [the future redeveloped] Yangjicun.

Former residents of Yangjicun standing in front of their old home with a poster of the future redeveloped Yangjicun.

Former residents Yao Muchang and her mother and nephew take a photo in front of their old home with an artist’s portrayal of [the future redeveloped] Yangjicun.

Comments on NetEase:

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寡妇村牛村长 [网易广西防城港市网友]:

This can be considered the overnight disappearance of a village, the villagers having become city residents.

海豚深蓝 [网易湖北省武汉市网友]:

The demolition of this kind of “village within a city” means how many villagers [residents] become multi-millionaires. The demolition of every little building means getting a new home of the same floorspace. I know of a “village-within-a-city” slacker/hoodlum where the demolition [of his home] brought his family 8 new homes [apartment units]. From a slacker/hoodlum who only graduated from middle school to becoming a multi-millionaire who never has to worry about food and clothing ever again is this easy/simple…

网易广东省佛山市网友:

Now it is the city surrounding the rural/villages. According to the latest statistics, the urban population has for the first time surpassed the rural population, which demonstrates this point. The people who have dispersed can now online look for past happy memories in their old photographs.

帮啊公做嘢 [网易广东省肇庆市网友]:

Seeing these, I find it a little frightening, like the feeling of being wiped out!!

网易广东省佛山市网友:

What a familiar name! I’ve often passed by this stop when riding the subway, changing lines at this stop, but never exiting the station to look at the surrounding sights.

网易广东省佛山市网友:

The people who have dispersed need not feel too much regret and reluctance to part with this place, because memories are always more beautiful than they really were.

KU豆 [网易广东省中山市网友]:

Rents will now be more expensive.

网易浙江省网友 [realy000]: (responding to 海豚深蓝)

Many people who had their homes demolished in the early years have absolutely nothing at all, having missed the right times.

网易陕西省网友 [1325814347967]: (responding to 海豚深蓝)

The comment above [by 海豚深蓝] is very objective. This kind of phenomenon is so prevalent in Xi’an, though no multi-millionaires but plenty of millionaires~!!

网易山西省太原市网友 [qlw4110]: (responding to above)

Taiyuan too. The slackers/hoodlums here where we are who originally had nothing have become multimillionaires now because of demolitions. When Yangjiabaocun was demolished, the least that was paid [by redevelopers to the old residents] was 5 million~~~~ It’s that easy/simple.

网易广东省深圳市宝安区网友: (responding to above)

Softly asks: What will the children and grandchildren of the despotic gentry do? When the 70-year leases expire, will they become poor people like us rabble? When we were in school in the past, the teacher always said that capitalist societies were societies where people preyed on each other, that capitalists only nakedly exploited the workers. Only when I grew up did I discover that we are even more tragic. At least for better or worse they only have capitalists and landlords, whereas we have an extra thing: corrupt officials. People preying on each other is small stuff, but dogs preying on people, now that’s a special characteristic [of China].

石门一只眼 [网易河北省石家庄市网友]:

“This building has not signed, do not demolished” Haha.

[Referring to the spray painted words in the 11th photo.]

Written by Fauna

Fauna is a mysterious young Shanghainese girl who lives in the only place a Shanghainese person would ever want to live: Shanghai. In mid-2008, she started chinaSMACK to combine her hobby of browsing Chinese internet forums with her goal of improving her English. Through her tireless translation of popular Chinese internet news and phenomenon, her English has apparently gotten dramatically better. At least, reading and writing-wise. Unfortunately, she's still not confident enough to have written this bio, about herself, by herself.

  • First time playing GAY SOFA.

    U’s all gays.

  • BTW F. I swear I’m tripping I think I saw U on tv the other day. I mean I rarely watch chinese tv (hell tv in general) but I think U were on some dating show looking for mr. perfect. Or am I just too drunk?

  • staylost

    Happy New Year everyone!!!!

    Here in Zhejiang people usually make a fortune when the government wants to demolish, but my friends here remind me that it is not so good in the north. Maybe you guys can weigh in on whether it is good or bad to get chosen for demolition in your part of China.

  • The Dude

    If anyone else is remaining in their house then the ‘black hand society’ will soon be down at night in force with their ‘tools’.

    I’ve seen that happen first hand. When all else fails they burn them out. It’s no joke.

  • Reminds me “Sim City”.
    Now just mark all empty areas with “dense residential” and watch the skyscrapers growing…

  • donscarletti

    Cue abusive comments about Cantonese people in 3-2-1.

    Sun Zhongshan was Cantonese and did what all Chinese men want to do, screwing and abandoning a Japanese woman like Madame Butterfly. When he gave the 22 year old Shanghainese hottie Song Qingling the secret rules she became chairwoman for her service. During his free time he also established the Republic of China.

    I call into question the patriotism of any Chinese man who looks down on Cantonese people and therefore Dr Sun Zhongshan.

    • donscarletti

      Further more, totally wish everyone a big Lung Nin Tai Gat,Gung Hei Fat Coi(龍年大吉, 恭喜發財)! Especially to the evicted, hope those greedy developers pay what they should.

      • Foreign Devil

        if you are not Chinese then I feel sorry for you that you wasted your time learning Cantonese when you could have been using that time to learn the much more useful Mandarin! ;)

        • donscarletti

          Mandarin huh?

          Let me see: ni3 jiu4shi4 ge4 ben4 sha3bi1, yi3wei2 bie4ren2 ye3 xue3xi2 bu4liao3 liang3 ge4 fang3yan2.

          Hmm, I think I mistyped my newyear’s greeting, but you get the point. And FWIW I know extremely little Canto.

          • Foreign Devil

            ok no worries you got your mandarin covered. Just wondering why you used Canto in the first place.

          • David

            I think calling Cantonese and Mandarin different “dialects” of Chinese is like calling French and Spanish different dialects.

            Granted, they use the same characters, and occasionally have some similar words and of course a mutual origin, but I wouldn’t call them different dialects.

            Sounds like propaganda for the unified, happy, harmonious China. :)

          • donscarletti

            FD: Ever been to Hong Kong? Food is good, atmosphere is good, perfect blend of order and chaos. I do not visit nearly as often as I’d like, but I usually pick up a few words each time.

            David: I think my exact words were “fang3yan2” (方言), which can be translated to “dialect” in the same way as you can translate “noodle” equally into “米粉”,”河粉” or “面条”. I’m not answering to the political implications of any words in your English translations you write.

            That said… compare:
            Long Nian Da Ji, Gong Xi Fa Cai
            Lung Nin Tai Gat, Gung Hei Fat Coi
            If those are different languages I will eat my own hat.

          • donscarletti

            Oh, and I used Canto because it’s about redevelopment in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province. I thought with certain forum members calling them “fucking shitty and greedy jewish fuckers” I should express solidarity here, what with their ghetto being cleared out and everything.

          • E Puff

            I’m agreeing with David. Two completely different languages with different intonations. Some words are alike but they are far and few in between. When I listen to cantonese I cannot understand any of the words. The sounds are different, it’s like italian and spanish – some words the same, but different languages.

          • mr. weiner

            I love hearing Cantonese, can’t speak any of it unfortunately. It’s just so damned…. combative.
            Kind of like in the movies where they have middle american for the fat cats, aristcratic English for the [slightly gay] villians and Australian, South African or a lower class English accent [or scots] for the hard men.
            Just to my ear, Canto is hard core, Taiwanese to a lesser extent, but Taiwanese mandrin sounds very laid back and slightly effete. Beijing hua[r] just sounds as pompass as all hell.

            Just my 5 mao’s worth, feel free to [dis]agree.

          • E Puff

            when i hear cantonese it sounds like they’re crying. Waaaaaaaaaa some of those intonations are too long lol. the first mandarin words i learned without being taught was Shenme! Bu shi! wo, wo de , ni hao, lol and i thought hmm i can learn the whole language. ANd i did. I do admit to emulate beijing tongues because i thought it was the standard for mandarin with the “er” sound at the end of some words. I also don’t know every word. Like, if someone was to say, hmmm how do you say “elephant” , well i dont know that word. lol I know a lot of words but not all. I probably have the vocabulary of a 3 year old baby or something. I do like to eavesdrop on chinese peoples conversations. Why? Because nobody is expecting an american black woman to understand mandarin. I have never heard anything unusual in conversations though except the time i was at the grocery store and dropped a whole display of food by accident. when i bent down to pick it up a group of students were walking by and one of them made an unnecessary comment. I just pretended I didn’t hear it.

          • mr. weiner

            Canto crying? Wow, I hear two folks letting rip in Cantonese, I think they’re cursing each other out, but everyone tells me later they’re just talking about the weather or somesuch. Cracks me up. Of course one time I heard some old cantonese fella really cursing some one and it was like a fireworks display.

          • E Puff

            cantonese sounds fast. do you want me to tell you where you can learn canto really easily and really fast? if you are genuinely interested.

          • mr. weiner

            Living in Taiwan, I’d rather get my Mandarin sorted out and then concerntrate on Taiwanese [Fukin hua].

          • HinDL

            it is bie2ren2 , xue2xi2 and fang1yan2.
            Also ge is withoug tone unless you mean 各.
            Learn your tones right ;)

    • mistyken

      That’s just an outline of Sun Zhongshan sexual conquest, that guy banged much harder than that. The man sure had his fair share of wet stink. Amazing is he still manage to overthrow the Qing dynasty. Even Chuck Norris gotta pay kudos to that.

  • wgh

    Hope all former residents got adequate conpensation or rehousing.

    • typingfromwork

      “Hope” is all some of them will ever get, mate.

      The big fat cheque to the corrupted developers will all be spent on iphones and whores, not compensation.

      • Interested

        My family played the game with Chinese govement before. Never admit Chinese govement is fair. Use whatever mean like salemen to inflate your properpty value. Be tough, be asshole, holding your ground to the last.

        Shamefully admitt, we got `unfairly’ over compesated for one shitty shed. Yes, We chinese manipulate any thing for pure profit. Chinese Govements are really sucker for such redneck behavior.

    • Hongjian

      Actually, Compensation is the norm, and not being compensated is the exception in China.

      If it was the other way around, we wouldnt hear so much internet outcry and ruckus for people not being compensated, like it is in India the case, where people do not even bother with prostests anymore, since it helped noone.

      Most people are actually happy when the developers come over to rip their shit apart, since they usually get millions of RMB as compensation, or at least one of the new built homes for free, that are many times worth the price of their old homes.

      Shit hits the fan of course, when there are some stubborn and sentimentalist old folks who do not want to leave their shabby slum. And this is where AP and Reuters will run to like flies to write their stories about forceful evictions and human rights abuses, that generate the image that evictions without compensation was the norm in China. Which is not.

      • Foreign Devil

        Are you sure that everyone gets fair compensation? What about the past article here on CHinaSmack about the guy who set himself on fire on his roof while his family tried to fight off the approaching wrecking crew. IF they where fairly compensated they would not have risked their lives. Probably you are right that in most big cities they get good compensation.. but I don’t know about the smaller cities and towns. So many protests and bad stories.

        • Hongjian

          ChinaSmack reports about it, because it is the exception of the rule. If this was the rule, noone would even take notice of it.
          Typical case of “dog bites man vs. man bites dog” here.

          And still, even if alot of shit like uncompensated evictions happen, it is still the exception of the rule and to be expected, due to the sheer size of China’s population and cities alone.
          In the poor province I’m most of the time, the peasants as well as low-social ranking city dwellers are happy by the majority when the property devs are coming to buy their houses to demolish them, with very few people sentimental enough to hang onto those shitty 80’s eastern-block contrete habs, to throw a tandrum.
          And it is even like this on the countrysite, where the peasantry, who have absolutely no chance of becoming rich with any other means, willfully sell their land to these devs to make mad bucks in short time, only to spend it with useless shit and gamble it away after a few month, then left sitting with nothing and ending it by suicide.

      • Xiongmao

        Compensation isn’t the norm. Under-compensation is.

        • Hongjian

          No, it isnt.

          Get your head out of Liu Xiaobo’s ass and look again.

          • Stimpy

            Amazing that you seem such an authority on this. You know this for sure? How?

          • mr. weiner

            I’m with Stimpy on this. I’m not just automatically dissing everything you post Hongjian, I want to be objective. Do you have anything to back that up?

      • typingfromwork

        That may be so, but I’m under the impression that the developers always shaft them on the proper amount of compensation. And once they sign a badly worded deal with legalese that gives a fraction of what they should be getting and there’s nothing they can do about it. The local authorities always seem to side with the developers.

        it’s a situation that can only be improved with better knowledge and enforcement of people’s rights. But wait this is China so I’m not holding my breath.

        • paxman

          Well, I dunno about the rest of China, but everyone here in Shenzhen knows that Shenzhen hukou holders, or original Shenzheners are rich. They got that way from their land. Most of the local families own multiple apartments. Developers trade them their land for new flats, which they either sell or rent out. I know people that own whole floors of new buildings. Its been happening for years and is still happening as the city develops further out.

          And 个 “ge” does have a tone, its a 4th tone. However, in regular speech it sounds neutral more times than not.

  • Hannes

    Whats the problem? Thats development – I know farmers that made a fortune by the recompensation.
    Everyone should be happy to get new Houses for the old trash they owned before!
    Regards from a German living in China.

  • typingfromwork

    Good ridance. Old dirty ass dangerous houses that don’t even have paved streets outside? Get rid of them. This is just two steps above a shanty town.

    I’ve never understood the people who cry for the demolition of the old Hutongs in Beijing. I remembered them as narrow, claustrophobic dirty holes with no proper sanitation. All the families were horders and would stack bicycles, cabbages and most inexplicably old newspapers outside that blocked the streets even more. Glad to see the day they were gone, let me tell ya. Some people (mostly westerners who don’t know what it was like before) bemoan the loss of traditional Beijing “culture” (lolwut), but really, when it’s that crappy, nostalgia is sometimes just not worth it.

    • Foreign Devil

      Maybe they are cleaned up. . but the remaining traditional Hutongs in Beijing that will probably be preserved . . I’ve walked around in them and it looks really nice and feels completely different from the modern city environment. Best feature is that the alleyways are too labyrinthine and narrow for cars and trucks to go in there. . so it is very quite. The architecture also helped people to live as big family units and know their neighbors well and have real sense of community. Something that condo dwellers and most westerns know nothing about. Life is a lot more lonely for people now holed up in their little private castles. They could die and nobody would find out for months!

      • typingfromwork

        There are some left, all cleaned up for tourists and rich people. And I have to admit they are nice. It’s how it should be. If someone wants that kind of nostalgia and can pay for it, then good for them. It adds character to the city without all the unpleasant grimyness they were associated with before.

    • Mr. V

      Guess you have not been to Europe then, with all those “dirty old homes” in old quarters: with all modern conveniences, but with old looks… Tell that to those who live in the super expensive Old Town of Tallinn for example that they should be demolished and build couple of sky scrapers. Or tell that to Old Riga and the tourism industry it brings.

  • Foreign Devil

    In modern China. . if the building is not at least 30 stories high or older than 20 years. . It shall be torn down and rebuilt bigger.

  • acheron

    It’s a bit sad seeing the disappearing of Yangji though I know these people gonna make good money from the demolish. I saw too much demolish and rebuilding in Guangzhou, but TBH, it’s almost like killing a city, leave nothing but the stupid skyscrapers. I guess the local government should preserve some traditional architecture like Qilou in Guangzhou,it’s one of the fearuring stuff of this city, really love it.

  • RuN

    ive heard some guy became multimillionaire due to demolishing (from north) after converting his old properties to sq metres he got 11 brand new apartmentsl

  • Doesntmatter

    This person is going to die from cancer, she needs a bone marrow transplant and desperately needs a match http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VzXnmxSCMO8&feature=related
    Please register if you are an Asian American

  • Peye

    Every thing is new and shiny for a while. But many of these HI-Rise complexes will become the slums of tomorrow. Only time will tell how the Chinese people will handle this problem.

    • anon

      The same way they’ve been handling them. Tear them down and rebuild them in ongoing cycles of redevelopment. As the overall society develops, becoming wealthier, standards and norms will rise, giving way to higher expectation for the next crop of buildings, which may then be built to more exacting standards and may last a bit longer before they too wear out and are demolished to be redeveloped yet again. It’s the story of cities.

      • Ryo

        I don’t think it’s as easily said then done. When you can’t use dynamite, it’s a lot easier taking a 3 story building down then a 30 story building.

        It’s not the building’s problem that these high rises get’s “run down.” It’s the management. My mom’s building in Hong Kong is more then 15 years old but it looks cleaner (inside and out) then most 5 year old buildings here.

        Residents pay the “management fees” but shit hardly gets fixed. Things don’t get cleaned. Guards sleeping at their posts. But residents continue to pay without complaint. It’s the China way!

  • Ryo

    For the people that are left over, they are simply greedy bastards and think they are entitled to be instant upper class.

    I am living in an apartment that was build for a similar group of people here. One family will usually end up with 2 or 3 apartments in the size of 75-105 sq/m. Some have 4 or 5. They aren’t allow to sell them but they are allow to rent them out. The one I’m living in has 75 sq/m of living space, 3 br for 3200 rmb/mo. If you have 3 of these and rent out two, that’s more then what most people make here in a month and you aren’t even doing anything!

    On top of that, they probably have some type of compensation in the form of cash as well. If the compensation was really that bad, most residents would be protesting but you only see 10 (in this article) out of hundreds that were living there before.

    The sooner the project gets started, the sooner the buildings will be finish and the sooner the residents can move back in and get on with their lives. These 10 residents are keeping that from happening with their greed.

    • E Puff

      It might not be much of a house, but it’s a home. Right? Sometimes our emotional attachments are all we have left.

  • Mr. V

    What would have been done in West is to upgrade these apartment with modern plumbing and heating and electricity and sold at high price as feel-good old looking homes outside, inside modern to people who want something low, homely instead of faceless sky scrapers. This sort of old homes are super expensive in Europe. In China, hammer down for “progress”.

  • I met some of the workers who got paid to demolish the site back in October. Here are some photos from the demolition.

    http://rubbletourist.wordpress.com/2011/10/11/dinner-at-yangji-building-site/