Mayor Geng’s Effort on Demolition and Relocation
Geng Yanbo is a Chinese politician who served as the mayor of Datong from 2008 to 2013. Some people say he is a hero of Datong, while some say “Demolition Geng”. He took over as mayor of Datong and worked on a project to rebuild the city walls, destroying more than 180,000 houses in the name of turning them into cultural cities. To rebuild the massive city wall, he wanted to relocate 500,000 people, which was 30% of the city. With so many houses being torn down, conflicts with citizens had grown and many problems had arisen. Citizens who suddenly lost their homes were angry and complained that they were not properly compensated and treated.
Yet, this project had a greater meaning to mayor Geng as a leader of the city. In the eyes of the mayor, he saw expiring life as an industrial city, and as a result polluted and poor environment for habitation. Moreover, on the ‘Datong’ documentary, he said ‘The city wall alone can’t save Datong. I’m creating a featured city by transforming the industry into the culture. The spirit of Datong lies in its culture. Its traditional culture is its unique advantage. And promises Datong a bright future.’. He stressed the importance of culture and insisted that it would be a great treasure over the next hundred years for Datong.
Beside his fierce nickname ‘Demolition Geng’, he was a kind mayor to citizens. While Geng was busy managing everything, he listened to their voices and tried to find a way to solve it. According to the documentary, the government spent $5.6 billion on people’s welfare out of $10 billion budget in total. Mayor Geng tried to achieve both demolition and relocation successfully, but their problems were rooted in the political system which made it impossible to satisfy everyone.
Zhou Hao, Filmed in 2015. “The Chinese Mayor”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lllsrbghSm8