Hainan island’s “Hammer Action” to pull down the biggest slum in Sanya City

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Translated by China Hush

Sanya is a popular tourist destination on Hainan island at the southernmost tip of China, famous for its tropical climate and beautiful beaches.  Recently the city government has become dedicated to beautify the city by pulling down its biggest slums.  The government even has a name for this clearance project, ‘Hammer Action’.

One slum clearance took place in the morning of Jan 19th.  Given the wide attention given to this issue, the general administrative law enforcement bureau of the Sanya municipal government released a report to explain the three main reasons for the action.  The report cited the slum as a fire hazard, a source of environmental pollution and claimed that the area was difficult to manage.

The government says the poor inhabitants of the slums may deserve sympathy, but it has no measure or intention to resettle them, “because the huts there are illegal buildings”.

These explanations may have a point, but the action is still called in question by Chinese netizens and the media.  Questions include asking whether the Sanya government’s action was legal.  Why did the government allow the slum district to exist for such a long time before it suddenly took such an extreme action?  Many speculate that the local overheated real estate boom is too tempting a prospect for the city government of Sanya, which cannot resist the opportunities to be made from 30,000m² of prime real estate.  After all, is the city’s image more important than all the people in the slum?

The formation of this shanty town goes back to the last century.  To find a better way of life, some poor farmers from Danzhou city (northwest of Hainan province) moved here to keep pigs in the simple and crude huts they built.

To date, the shanty towns, which cluster in the Mango village and Watermelon village in Sanya, have developed into a 30,000 m² area, with a permanent population of 2,000 people.  Together with the money they made by picking up trash, a family can earn much more money than they could by growing crops at home where most of their farmland is saline and alkaline land that is too salty to cultivate anything.

While everyone blames the Sanya government for being callous or money-oriented, maybe we should also turn around and ask the Danzhou government to do something for its own people.  The farmland is maybe too salty, but surely something can be done to improve the utilization of the land.  Scientists never stop working on the problem of the salty land, a case study could be established here.

The future of these farmers is unsure, but one thing is sure, if all these pig raisers are all forced to leave, the price of pork will certainly rise in Sanya.

Source: Tencent news