To house the new arrivals, the government is increasingly slapping eviction notices on low-rise apartment buildings and small houses in the central areas, with the goal of freeing up land that can be used for high-rise apartment blocks.
Meanwhile, the ancient neighborhoods of Beijing, including the old courtyard houses in the hutongs, or narrow cobbled alleys, radiating outward from the Forbidden City, are rapidly vanishing. Residents mention rumors that those who refuse to sell old homes are evicted or beaten by the agents of property developers. The official newspaper, called People's Daily, has reported that courts have begun to refuse to hear cases brought by evicted residents. According to the newspaper, court officials feel their calendars are too crowded.
"The soul of this city is diminished when little features like the Spirit Screen Wall … are torn down to make room for some generic apartment complex," mourned a columnist in That's Beijing, a monthly English-language magazine. The erasure of old Beijing, he argues, "represents … a sort of myopic megalomania."
'4 Manhattans a year'
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