Qingdao homeowners step up NIMBY protests against power substation
On March 15, China’s Consumer Rights Protection Day, about 100 homeowners took to the street in Qingdao, Shandong province, and decried the planned construction of an adjacent 220 kilovolts substation, with an element of performance art.
“Vanke Doesn’t Have Moral Conscience,” the combination of individual characters on the protesters’ shirts says.
In February, home buyers who had made payments on properties at Vanke Co.’s Lanshan development in Qingdao found to their surprise that their homes are only 100 meters away from a 220 kV power sub-station that the city government plans to build. The revelation has spark widespread anxiety over the potential health risks posed by the power substation and outrage over not being informed about the plan. Homeowners have subsequently formed an alliance and organized a series of protests.
Homeowners cited experts’ concern that risks of leukemia and cancer among humans who live within a 2-kilometer radius of 220 kV electric power lines are several times higher than those who do not, and that electromagnetic radiation may lead to miscarriage, birth defects and cardiovascular diseases. However, China so far doesn’t have relative scientific studies to either substantiate or repudiate such conclusions.
The Lanshan development by Vanke, China’s largest property developer by market value, is the most expensive real estate project in Qingdao in terms of unit price, which charges on average 15,600 yuan per square meter (roughly US$230 per sq ft). All homes were taken on September 25, 2010, the first day the development was on open sale. A second-phase project has completed and is now available for sale.
On March 8, 40 homeowners put on white mourning garments and carried several elegiac couplets with a ‘tombstone’ to Vanke’s sales office near the development, which reads, “Condolences over the early death of Vanke’s moral conscience.” The elegiac couplets, from the left to right, respectively say “Profound condolences sent from homeowners from Shanghai,” “Profound condolences sent from homeowners from Qingdao,” “Profound condolences sent from Guangzhou,” “Discarding faith and rejecting righteousness results in infamy for ten thousand years,” “Death is not a sufficient punishment for the die-out of moral conscience,” “Profound condolences sent from Dongguan.”
The March 15 protest marks the climax of the dispute and also underscores the growing sophistication of Chinese middle class in employing non-violent acts – by aimlessly strolling, flash-mobbing, banner-unfurling and even performance art – to accomplish their Non-In-My-Backyard goals. In 2007, thousands of residents in southern Xiamen city successfully made the government call an abrupt halt to a PX (p-Xylene) chemical plant by demonstrating near the city council while wearing yellow ribbons. Last year, a similar large-scale demonstration in northeastern Dalian city following two explosions also led to the relocation of a PX chemical plant.
March 15, Qingdao, protesters wore T-shirts with characters that, when combined, say “How Expensive Is Moral Conscience? We Want Honesty and Integrity.”
Performance art: Two protesters dressed in T-shirts that reads “Vanke” trampled underfoot the other two representing the embodiment of “Honesty and Integrity”
Performance art: monster-like Vanke ropes consumers in and holds them on a leash.
In front of a billboard advertising the second-phase project of Lanshan development: “Honesty and Integrity are but myths.”
March 15, in Vanke’s regional office in Qingdao, all senior staff had retreated through the back entrance. Homeowners could only confront its lower staff members.
March 15, Qingdao, the police stepped in and took away the ‘tombstone’.
Homeowners in the non-violent protest held a hand-written note that says “Dear, they just won’t tell you that the 220 kv power substation is only 108 meters away from you. (14 persons)”
Selected comments form NetEase:
宪兵团长 [网易江西省南昌市网友]：2012-03-15 18:55:22 发表
These picture have fully and vividly showcased the golden-mean quality of Chinese – They not only want to stand up for their rights and interests, but also want to keep their heads down to avoid inviting troubles.
苍火红莲 [网易河南省濮阳市网友]：2012-03-15 19:03:41 发表
(In reply to the previous comment) They (Vanke) get along with both the underworld and the overworld. So the ordinary people trying to protect their own safety is a bad quality? Foreigners mask their faces in protests too!
猪员外 [网易上海市网友]：2012-03-15 18:59:48 发表
Who made you speculate on property?! You deserve it.
芙小小 [网易云南省昆明市网友]：2012-03-15 19:05:30 发表
Strongly support homeowners who fight for their rights. At the same time, strongly condemn any fraudulent activities directed at homeowners! Fight hard! Homeowners!
意志de胜利 [网易辽宁省本溪市网友]：2012-03-15 19:03:35 发表
No property developer in China has moral conscience.
网易江苏省苏州市网友 ip：121.236.*.*2012-03-15 19:04:08 发表
Isn’t it a matter as small as buying a home? Why it makes people bet on luck for a reliable house as if it were a gamble? And they also have to bet on luck for problem-free surroundings.
网易湖南省长沙市网友 [愤怒的小亮] 的原贴：1
A 220 kV power substation, so what? There is still a distance of 108 meters. It is not a nuclear power station after all. These people are really kicking up a fuss over nothing.
网易广西南宁市网友 [枪打鸟蛋] 的原贴：2
(In reply to the previous comment) There is electromagnetic radiation.
网易山东省青岛市网友 [bluebluecool] 的原贴：3
Average property price in that area is 17,000 (per square meter). Don’t abuse the term “ordinary people”. The real ordinary people are moving to the outskirts. Moreover, power substation is an infrastructure project. It is for everyone too!
网易山东省青岛市网友 [jipinliu] 的原贴：4
Exatly! They have money to burn. They asked for it.
E5A2A8E8BDA90 [网易山东省青岛市网友]：2012-03-16 10:35:49 发表
A bunch of SOBs. They snatched up properties in a fit.Now they deserve it.
网易广东省深圳市网友 ip：183.15.*.*2012-03-16 10:17:50 发表
Let such acts sweep across all unscrupulous industries, food, medical, personal hygiene…Let those black-hearted ghosts go to hell.