It was past three o’clock in the morning on June 29 when hundreds of security agents and armed police were dispatched to conduct a forced demolition of homes in Wayao village, a middle-class residential area in Beijing. While homeowners used rocks and fire extinguishers to defend their properties, the police blasted them with pepper spray, a popular weapon used in the Hong Kong protests. Many local residents were injured, and at least 10 were arrested.
Homeowner Li Liang (alias) told The Epoch Times that the demolition would likely begin in the early morning. At approximately 1 a.m., the residents gathered to block the community exit points.
“There are four complexes in this community sharing two exits. I went to one of them. Each exit was occupied by around 200 villagers. We were prepared in case they used pepper spray on us. It turned out that’s what they did.”
Li explained that when the unlicensed security agents, known as “black security,” showed up, they said nothing, and just “started spraying very cold liquid at us. They sprayed directly at our faces, in exactly the same way as the Hong Kong police do. When a woman’s eyes were injured by the spray, the armed police grabbed her hair, pushed her down, and knocked her head on the ground.”
“As soon as she fell to the ground, the defense line was broken. The armed police and security just stepped on her as they pushed their way into the crowd. Her leg was injured in the stampede. One person went to the hospital to get treated for an injury, but he’s been isolated outside [the facility].”
Demolition Team Two Miles Long
Li indicated that prior to the demolition, some unknown vehicles were seen checking out the villages. The demolition team arrived at 3 a.m.
“The magistrates in Changping District Court brought along officers from the district public security bureau and the township police station. This group stretched for two miles when you include police cars, court vehicles, heavy duty engineering vehicles, and so on, all the way from the demolition sites to the village exits,” Li said.
The first vehicle to arrive was an ambulance—it indicated to the residents that the perpetrators had “no fear of killing, no fear of casualties,” Li said. Then a police car, police and court police officers followed. “It had been publicized that no public security would be involved in the demolition; but that was a lie. They all took part in the demolition process. The armed police were in the front with shields, followed by the black security agents.” The demolition team arrived wearing protective gear and fully prepared to attack the unarmed villagers.
Li said the officials’ approach was to safeguard the areas to be demolished to ensure that the demolition went smoothly. As for the neighborhoods that have yet to be demolished, grid management was used. Grid management is a system recently adapted by Beijing to monitor and control individual residents. It was often used in Tibet. Local residents were put in groups and assigned to a grid manager who would obtain very detailed personal information from them. Checkpoints were set up in each grid to ensure compliant behavior. According to Li, a shield vehicle was positioned at each intersection to block mobile phone signals.
“Because of the pandemic, the officials collected information about the neighborhood in the name of preventing an outbreak. They gathered data as detailed as the number of vehicles entering the community every day, as well as names, occupations, and even political inclination of the residents,” Li said.
The demolition was to be completed in four days. During the interview, loud noises could be heard in the background. Li explained that the eastern complex was the first to be demolished, and that the complex right behind it was now under demolition.
Homeowners Face Food Shortages
Li also said that each blocking point extends as far as six miles (ten kilometers) past the village, and that each inroad from the highway was secured. No one could enter, and no one could exit. He worried that power in his complex might be cut off. Cutting off water, power, internet, and food have been a routine tactic conducted by the authorities during forced demolitions.
He said that the residents had trusted the authorities, and thus the majority of them had no food in reserve.
More than a dozen residents were arrested. After the conflict, the residents were very disappointed and felt hopeless against such a ruthless regime. He explained that some people on WeChat said they would defend their property with their lives. But such voices are no longer heard. Li wondered if they were arrested.
One elderly person said in a video: “This was my home. I worked hard most of my life to build this home. Now it’s gone. The government has not mentioned compensation. The rest of our lives go down just like this home did. Help us.”
Li said, “In this land [China], we have no rights, not even the right to survive. The communists allow no ownership of private property. That’s why we are issued a so-called resident’s ID. It means that we Chinese can live here, but it has nothing to do with citizenship.”
According to a Radio Free Asia report, the demolition of middle-class communities started as early as last winter. In October 2019, 3,800 village homes were demolished, and residents lost an average of approximately two million yuan ($282,881) per home.
The communities in Wayao village are known as the cultural industry quarter developed by agreements with local officials, developers, and the middle-class residents. Among them are many artists, entrepreneurs, film and TV stars, government officials, and military retirees.
In 2000, the collective land was authorized by the local cadre committee and constructed with the local government’s desire to boost the economy. It had approval from the district government in Beijing. Properties were presented with various types of villas. However, the regime is now targeting these communities by labeling them as illegal and forcing demolition without negotiation.
In 2017, the Chinese regime evicted people and demolished the homes of a low-income area in Beijing, which left tens of thousands of migrant workers homeless. Now, it’s the middle class that is being targeted.