A recent article in China Daily details the beginning of what will be the second largest relocation project in China’s history—just behind the Three Gorges dam. The article, and the picture shown above, make light of the relocations, saying the residents are receiving compensation and keys to fully-equipped apartments in downtown areas.
The article quotes 58-year-old farmer, Ji Yanqing, who recently received 2,000 yuan ($300) and keys to a new apartment as part of the relocation process.
“He is happy about the new life but still feels sad being apart from his old friends who have moved to other relocation spots,” the article says. According to the article, he will be moving to an area where “every house in the new community has tap water and a fixed-line telephone. And the residents can go to new schools and clinics nearby.”
But Ji Yanqing and other farmers being pushed off their land might not be so happy in the future—if the relocations at the Three Gorges are a sign of things to come.
Take He Kechang for example. He was promised fair compensation after being kicked off his land. When the money never came, he started asking questions of government officials. After collecting evidence and petitions from other villagers demanding accountability, He found himself facing a jail sentence for two years on charges of disturbing the public order.
Or the citizens who were supposed to receive money from Du Jiang—a government official who stole 2.81 million yuan (US$350,000) of the Three Gorges Reservoir Project resettlement fund.
Or the citizens who were supposed to receive $57.7 million (all figures in U.S. dollars) in Three Gorges resettlement funds that were siphoned off by local officials. At the time, this graft accounted for almost 12 percent of the total $487.8 million that the central government had allocated for the relocation of more than 1 million residents.
Or this study that showed the majority of migrants displaced by China’s Three Gorges dam project suffered a decline in well-being and economic circumstances. Chinese academic, Dayu Yang, who headed the study illustrated that many migrants faced problems of unemployment or replacement farmland that was insufficient in size and quality.
So while the initial citizens being forced to relocate for the massive South-North Water Diversion project are content—or at least appear to be—the more than 1 million residents that will eventually be forced to move might face more difficult circumstances.
But until then, it’s all smiles.