Last Wednesday, Zheng Xiaoming, chief of the planning and construction bureau of the Chengdu National Hi-Tech Zone, announced the development of the first large foreign-only community in western China—a haven in which western families can go to church, shop, and send their children to school without crossing paths with more than a handful of locals. The Tianfu International Community will occupy 250,000 square meters in the Chengdu's Hi-Tech Zone, and will include modern, government subsidized housing for 5,000 residents. The community will be staffed by a cadre of English-speaking locals, but no local Chinese will be allowed to rent the apartments or villas. This ridiculous restriction has triggered outrage among netizens and Chengdunese, with some comparing it to the foreign concessions that followed the Opium Wars in the mid-1800s, which were off-limits to Chinese people.
When asked about the policy by the Global Times, one Mr. Wang, an employee of the Chengdu Hi-Tech Investment Group's marketing department, said that "the foreigners we are talking about are those Western-looking people. We want to ensure that the international community is pure." According to the Times, this means that "foreign passport holders who look like a Chinese" may also be denied access to the complex. Other news sources have been quick to take this interpretation even further; AFP has stated simply that "ethnic Chinese—even foreign passport holders—will not be welcome" though it is not clear that this was Mr. Wang's actual intended meaning.
In other land use-related news, last Friday the state council presented amendments to the laws governing land acquisition in an attempt to decrease the number of violent and abusive evictions and demolitions, such as the eviction last November in Chengdu that led to one woman's self-immolation in protest after the eviction crew beat her family. The new law would require developers to offer property owners compensation based on the market price of the property, and would prohibit coercive and violent means of eviction. Also critically, it would force evictions and demolitions to stop while a lawsuit is in progress. Shen Kui, one of the law professors from Beijing who met with the deputy director of the State Council Legislative Affairs Office to argue in favor of such an amendment, said that although the new law has some problems, he was "basically satisfied."
A Sichuanese man who says his four-year-old daughter went missing last month has started chaining his two-year-old son to a pole outside of a shopping mall while he works as an unlicensed motorbike taxi driver in Beijing. The man has refused aid from the local government, offers to adopt his son for money, as well as requests by the district government to return to Sichuan where his son can legally enroll in kindergarten.
The Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding has begun searching for a Sichuanhua teacher and a boyfriend (chosen by a vote among "panda fans worldwide") for Mei Lan, a three-year-old giant panda who will be FedEx'd tomorrow from her current home in Washington.
Compiled by Isaac Myers