“Tofu-dreg” projects have long become common in China, and have attracted much attention worldwide. The term was first coined by former Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji in 1998, and is now used to describe poorly constructed projects.
The problem sparked many social discussions in China, especially after the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan province, when many students died under collapsed school buildings. Several decades have passed, yet, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has never managed to solve it. Today in China, there are many types of tofu-dreg projects, such as:
tofu hydropower stations;
So far unreported, China has tofu villages also. [Image] But unlike other tofu-dreg projects that suddenly collapse on themselves, these villages are demolished by the CCP. Most of them are located within China’s mega cities like Beijing and Shanghai. Basically, there are 2 types of tofu villages also known as “villages within cities.”
“Tofu-dreg” villages built on purpose by Chinese residents
These are shoddy fake homes located in a village in Liuzhou city, Guangxi Zhang Autonomous Region. Instead of using steel or other standard materials, the houses are built with cheap cladding and plywood over bamboo pole frames.
According to SCMP, these homes are an attempt by some outsiders to ask for more compensation as the city launched a reconstruction project in this area. These outsiders rented land from villagers in advance, then quickly put up these shoddy houses. It took just a few days to complete a house like this, costing only about $21 to $28 (150 to 200 yuan) per square meter.
An official from the city management bureau said that the thickness of the walls was only the width of a single brick.
To ensure the safety of villagers, the local authority hired 600 workers to demolish all of the illegally built houses. One of the workers said the structures resembled “tofu-dregs projects.” In the end, over 2 million sq. feet (20,000 sq meters) of the illegal structures were flattened, and no compensation would be made.
“Tofu-dreg” villages defined by local authorities
There’s a phenomenon in China, which goes, “Without forced demolition, there will be no new China.” The saying implies China’s urbanization plan. To put it simply, whenever the CCP wants to modernize any city, it needs land to build infrastructure or metropolitan residential areas. And mostly, underdeveloped parts of the cities are usually rural villages.
This leads to the problem that the local authorities need to somehow make the villagers living in the rural areas move away.
So what should be done? The authorities need to relocate villagers to other areas or give them compensation, so that villagers would agree to move away. But things don’t always go as planned. Many villagers don’t agree with the unreasonable land grab because they have nowhere to go.
This is when the authorities will take coercive measures, also known as “forced demolition.” Typically, the common excuse that local officials use to knock down villagers’ homes is labeling them as “tofu-dreg” structures.
For instance, such a case happened in Zhejiang province in 2018. Residents in Wubanqiao village of Aojiang town had dwelled on the land for over ten years. People here told Bitter Winter that their homes were relatively new and had no quality issues. Plus, the homes were legally built since the authorities issued house numbers for each.
However, out of nowhere in mid-2018, the secretary of Wubanqiao village declared that the village was a shanty town, implying that the homes there were in bad condition and dangerous. So he reported the situation to a higher-level authority and ordered demolitions. As a result, roughly 900 houses in the village residential area became “unauthorized” buildings.
One villager said, “If these houses are all unauthorized buildings, then why did the authorities allow them to exist for so many years?”
The same scenario was repeated in 2020 in the same province, but in a different location. This time, 33 villages in Longyou county were “selected” for the local authority’s modernization plan. Meaning that the homes of over 4,000 villagers will be demolished.
Usually in these cases, residents refuse to relocate due to the authority’s unfair compensation plan. It either provides incredibly low compensation compare to the market value, or requires residents to pay additional costs if the new home costs more than the old one. Until the day they can return to the newly renovated homes, which might take years to complete, residents will have to rent or stay at their relatives’ places.
To the CCP, it’s best to make the residents accept the compensation and voluntarily leave. That way, its reputation will stay unharmed. So to make sure that the residents accept the relocating conditions, many local authority’s come up with mafia-like approaches. Namely, cutting off the water supply and electricity, removing the electricity meters from the houses , put up intimidating slogans to prevent residents from spreading the news on social media
In Longyou county, over 1,000 local officials were sent to persuade the villagers. They harassed them every day for seven months. A 70-year-old woman told Bitter Winter, “I was so scared of loud knocks on the door by these officials that my whole body trembled. Their daily visits made me so anxious that I could not sleep. My husband’s health deteriorated because of this.”
The CCP personnel also put pressure on residents’ children who study or work far away from home. They were made to persuade their parents to relocate, and were threatened with being dismissed from school if they didn’t get the documents signed.
When those mafia acts were not enough to make the villagers go away, demolition personnel came into action. The villager’s homes were turned into ruins in just the blink of an eye.
Those who refused to cooperate with the authorities had their homes trashed, with the floor being smashed and the staircase being torn down.
This is usually when things turn sour. As villagers determined to guard their houses, the police force was sent out to ensure the demolition went on. Sometimes, the police clash with villagers like this in Liuzhou. In another clash in a village in Henan, Bitter Winter cited a CCP official yelling through a speaker, “Anyone who dares to obstruct is going to get beaten up. Even if we beat someone to death, we would just have to pay a small amount of compensation.” If anyone tried to take photos, he might end up like this person, being beaten up. The police were merciless, forcing disabled elderly out of their homes , or pushing residents out from the top of a building. Warning: Graphic footage.
Ningyuan Municipal People’s Authorities are now demolishing Gongqiao Road
Gongqiao Road, Chunyang Town
Their forcible demolition is illegal
It violates the Constitution
It violates the law, violates the Property Law
Violates the Land Law
Hire some gangsters here, doing everything
Beating the people. Who paid for the demolition (the beneficiaries of demolition compensation) like this?
Beat them up like this!
Now it’s a society under the rule of law!
Who dares to be so lawless?
Is there no law in China now?
Is there no Constitution anymore?
Everything is a CCP action! Can power be greater than the law?
Anonymous sources told Bitter Winter that the local authorities were trying to grab land due to rising land prices. Huge profits can be generated if they can develop real estate in the area, which would explain the forced demolition. But according to Xu Zhiyi, a writer for Yibao China, forced demolition is a crime, and the CCP is considered a robber. The author wrote, “Forced demolition is a spectacle in China and an ongoing crime. Going to the street to buy a vegetable, and the house is gone when you come back, what kind of world is this? Sleeping at night, being kidnapped out of the house by thugs, and the house being knocked down by bulldozers, is this a super robber?”