China Tower Block Villa: Demolition Under Way

China Tower Block Villa: Demolition Under Way
Residents were angered by the illegal construction for years, with no success of stopping the grand project – until now.
Time & date: 4:38pm UK, Thursday 15 August 2013

By Victoria Wei in Beijing

A villa built on top of a 26-floor apartment block in China without permission is being demolished.

Workers demolish rooftop villa in Beijing, China
Workers can be seen demolishing the complex

Zhang Biqing, known as ‘Professor Zhang’, started building his elaborate residence about six years ago on the roof of a busy residential compound at West Beijing’s Haidian District.

Residents had expressed their anger at the penthouse, complaining about the illegal construction for years, with no success of stopping Mr┬áZhang’s grand project that has fake hills, real greens and even a swimming pool.

That was until a few days ago, when the building was spotted by internet users and the pictures of the site were posted and widely circulated among popular Chinese social networks, that caught the attentions of local and international media.

A warrant was issued on Wednesday with a 15-day demolition order.

Rooftop villa in Beijing, China
The building is on the roof of an apartment block

Haidain’s local city administrative management bureau, commonly referred by Chinese as ‘urban thugs’, was allegedly involved in the bribery from Mr┬áZhang to turn a blind eye to the site.

One officer Chen Yu told reporters on Tuesday that they were having difficulties getting hold of Mr Zhang in order to ‘investigate the case’.

A privately built villa, surrounded by imitation rocks
Residents complained about the villa

The demolition started around 8am, with workers coming from outside Beijing. Residents said the dismantling of part of the site was ongoing.

Mr Zhang, who became famous after inventing a system of Chinese acupuncture treatment, told local reporters the workers were the same group who built the villa and he would not be present during the process.

One family who lives at the opposite building told Sky News that the work was hugely intrusive.

They said it was loud and very bright and it meant they could not open their curtains at night.

Chinese residence
The complex has been built over several years

“It was not only the construction work that carried on at night but also the camera at the top that seemed to be working and recording all the time – we don’t have any privacy,” said the woman, who did not want to be named.

“I heard the swimming pool has caused floods to downstairs flats a few times; those poor families.”

A surveillance camera is seen on the top of a privately built villa, surrounded by imitation rocks, on the rooftop of a 26-storey residential block in Beijing
The site in West Beijing has fake hills

China’s online users have generated thousands of comments.

People on Sina Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter, said it was because of social media that action was being taken.

One user said: “It’s the power of the public voice and freedom of information. It has been six years, this Zhang person was not afraid of the city enforcements, officials, or even law, but he’s afraid of public supports, afraid of Weibo!”

Some online users also expressed concerns that other illegal constructions there could spring up in the future.

“Will it be ok after the demolition? When it was first built, did it get any permission? It’s a big building, it didn’t get finished within a day or two.

“It’s not small either, it’s a really big site, how did he do it exactly? If we don’t get to the bottom of the problem, this demolition is only superficial, it won’t solve the problem.”