As I leave China to return to the UK, the news of Yangji Village became hugely popular on TV and social media. This village was the first place where I stayed in in Guangzhou and when I was there in June, there was still construction work going on, probably the final phase of the redevelopment of the urban village.
On the 2nd October, the construction has been completed and a feast was thrown to celebrate the reopening of the village. Villagers organised and invited their relatives and friends to join in the celebrations and more than 1500 tables were needed to accommodate the 12 000 attendees.
According to the media, after the redevelopment, each villager was given on average 4 new properties in the high-rise towers. Yangji Village, because of its location in the city centre, has reached a property price of 56 000 RMB per square metre. Based on this price, some villagers would have gained more than 10 000 000 RMB of assest overnight.
The interesting thing was that the news became viral on social media, especially the inequality of the phenomenon. Villagers could become millionares overnight without doing anything in particular. The feast itself costed more than 1 000 000 RMB. What is also worrying is how the villager would spend the money – there are many stories of villagers who spent all of their newly gained money within the night, through gambling them away. Rural villagers are not incorporated into the city’s social security net and the money represented these villagers’ pension.