LOS ANGELES—A campaigner on behalf of Shanghai residents forcibly evicted from their homes to make way for the 2010 World Expo buildings has called on the government to hold talks with evictees, many of whom say they are still homeless and lacking promised compensation.
“We don’t understand the so-called political issues that our government talks about,” said Shen Ting, the chairperson of a rights group set up to represent families evicted to make way for the event.
“We just want some sort of solution to the situation of people who were forcibly evicted from their homes,” said Shen, who is chairperson of the China Alliance for Victims of Injustice.
Describing the evictees as “destitute and homeless,” Shen said whether or not the Shanghai Expo opens smoothly will depend on the level of sincerity shown by the Shanghai government.
“If they are sincere, I don’t think there will be many problems,” said Shen, who is currently in the United States to publicize the campaign.
“The Chinese government is always telling people overseas what great results it has produced from 30 years of economic reforms, but these results have come from stealing property from ordinary citizens,” she said.
She said many of the estimated 4,000 evictees are still in a situation of great hardship after being kicked out of their homes to make way for the Expo.
“This is extremely unfair and immoral,” Shen said, calling on municipal officials to hold meetings with evictees.
“Any problem can be dealt with by sitting down and talking about it,” she said. “It should be a top priority for them not to allow the victims to be destitute and homeless.”
She said Shanghai officials appear to fear that dealing with the landmark complaint case lodged by evictee He Maozhen will spark a deluge of further claims for compensation.
“How are they to deal with the problems of 4,000 people? So instead they have turned away and refused to deal with us,” Shen said. “This is an unacceptable attitude.”
Shanghai officials have defended the mass relocation of around 18,000 households to make way for the Expo, saying the families were paid appropriate levels of compensation.
Shanghai Expo Executive Committee deputy director Yang Xiong estimated in 2006 that the Expo would cost the city U.S. $1.32 billion.
Meanwhile, the central government is studying changes to a current law governing the expropriation of private property by developers, which frequently sparks violent clashes between police and residents who complain of being evicted with scant warning or adequate compensation.
Deputy director of legal affairs Hao Fengtao told the official Xinhua news agency that a proposed revision to the law would usher in a profound shift in housing-demolition policy.
He said the new law would require that compensation be paid before demolition work could begin.
Original reporting in Mandarin by Xiao Rong. Mandarin service director: Jennifer Chou. Translated and written for the Web in English by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.