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Beijing Official: Take Real, Rough, and Quick Action to Demolish Buildings

{Editor’s Note: A fire on November 18, 2017, at an apartment in Daxing District, Beijing caused 19 deaths. The Beijing government responded swiftly with a city-wide campaign to fix the “hidden dangers to safety.” The authorities forcibly expelled people from buildings that they declared unsafe and then immediately demolished those buildings.

Tens of thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands of people were forced to leave their homes in spite of the cold weather. Many had nowhere to go, so they slept on the street. Some people were given only 15 minutes to go inside their rooms and pick up their valuables; they had to leave many belongings behind to be lost in the demolition.

Many people criticized the government’s motivation, which was to clean out the “low end people” (people working at low paying jobs) from Beijing. Many of those people were immigrant peasants and some were citizen dwellers who came to Beijing to look for better career opportunities.

Despite the overwhelming public criticism of the authorities’ inhumane treatment of people, the government remained firm in its position and kept using its censorship army to delete Internet postings.

A video was recently posted on the Internet showing an official’s speech to motivate his subordinates to move quickly to drive people out and demolish the old buildings. The official was said to be Wang Xianyong (汪先永), Party Secretary of the Fengtai District, Beijing.

The following is a transcript of his speech.} {1}

“If you want to check (the situation), go to the site. Don’t just read the report. Go to the site to work. I think we cadres, whether upper management, department-level officials, section-level officials, or even village officials, (need to) go to the site to work. This is called taking ‘real action.’

“What is taking ‘rough action’? I just said, our public security, urban management, and law enforcement, procuratorate, Party committees, the Party disciplinary inspection office, the Party organization office, and the Party propaganda office should all work together to be tough (on the ‘low end people’)! The toughest way is to use the criminal charge of ‘offenses against public safety’ against (those who do not comply with our move out or demolition order). Detain them!

“(We need to take) quick action. We cannot wait. (You) cannot say ‘Let me wait for the official directive, official meeting, or official report.’ Don’t do that. If you can demolish the building today, just demolish it today! Don’t wait for tomorrow! If you dawdle, bad things could happen. Maybe a house will catch fire tonight? If you have demolished that building today, won’t you be able to sleep soundly tonight?

“So we must act quickly. Truly work on this.

“I think (when you all) go back, each street (resident committee) and each town, if you hold meetings to discuss how to demolish (buildings), how to close (shops), and how to end (businesses), you should not just do a motivational campaign or pass out papers; (you should take real action).

“(If) you are a village head, you know how many houses are rented out in your village (then you should end the rental and drive the tenants out).

“When I first came to Fengtai, I went to Xiaojingcun village. It had a lot of rental houses and hosted hundreds of people. Xiaojingcun, you’d better demolish all of them immediately.

“I think we should combine the demolition with the work of ‘removing (low end people), fixing (construction), and addressing (problems).’

“When managing the relationship between the safety work and other work, I think safety work is the number one priority. We have all kinds of work and there will be many things for us to consider, but I think safety is number one.” {Editor’s note: This gives the authorities the justification to demolish buildings in which (low end) people live, leave them homeless, and treat them poorly in the interest of “safety.”}

“I have said that we should take real action, rough action, and quick action, to move decisively.

“The head of the procuratorate and the President of the court of our district are both here. The public security, procuratorate, and the court are supporting you. If someone refuses to go with us, they are committing the crime of ‘offense against public safety.’ We can take forceful action against them.

“Do not have fear. Our district gives strong backing to each town, each street (resident committee), each village, and each community. The (Beijing) municipal Party Committee and the municipal government give strong backing to our Fengtai District. The (Communist) Party Central Committee and the general public are the strong backing for the municipal Party Committee and the municipal government.

“We are doing this to be responsible for the lives and property of the general public.

“We have said that first, we need to have the greatest determination; second, we need to mobilize the whole district; third, we need to check thoroughly and identify all hidden dangers to safety; fourth, we should take real action, rough action, and quick action.

“Fifth is to intensify the punishment of those officials who take no action, take action slowly, or are ignorant or lazy at work. I saw that both the Party Secretary and Director of the (Beijing) Party Disciplinary Inspection Committee attended the past two events. The head of the Procuratorate and the head of the Party Organization Department were also there. Why were they all there? At this time, if you don’t take action they will fire you right away.

“To get you to achieve things, I tell you, (we) have to push you. If we aren’t tough on you now, then when? What is ‘tough love’? … This is ‘tough love.’

“There are so many hidden safety dangers in Fengtai. Don’t we want to have a peaceful life? When we go home after work, don’t we want to be worry-free when watching TV? Be worry-free when sleeping?…” (The video ended here.)

{1} YouTube, “Beijing Fengtai District Party Secretary Wang Xianyong internal speech: Mobilizing the Work of Force-Demolishing and Driving out of ‘Low End People,’” November 27, 2017.