A Home of Our Own?
A story in today’s Chengdu Daily announces the construction of a “foreigner only” housing complex in Chengdu’s TianFu New City Hi-Tech Zone, in the south side of the city.
According to the report, the complex will cover just over 250,000 square meters of space, house at least 5,000 people, and is geared to service the employees of the more than 850 different foreign enterprises that have offices in Chengdu. The project will cost more than 5 billion yuan and foreigners are only allowed to rent, but Chinese are not allowed to buy or rent any unit in the complex.
“In order to maintain the international district’s ‘blood type’ purity, Tianfu International has decided to use the ‘rent not sell’ method,” wrote Chengdu Daily reporter Miao Qin. “Only thus can the international district ensure that only foreigners will live here.”
The new complex, Tianfu International District, is a project of the Hi-Tech Zone and will hopefully bring in even more foreign enterprises with its wide range of high-end amenities, such as a bilingual kindergarten, Western clinic, library, and fitness area, all overseen by a foreign management company. The estimated date of completion for the first part is October 2010 — this part will include apartments and 36 stand-alone houses for CEOs and other high ranking executives. According to the Chengdu Economic Daily, the second part of the complex will be all apartment complexes, housing the majority of the district’s population. The third and final quarter of the complex will be a Sichuan-style “Business Street,” so that foreigners who live here can “better understand this city, and grow to love the city.”
In an interview with the Tianfu Morning, Chengdu Hi Tech Investment Group’s (CHITG) deputy general manager, Xu Liang said, “Their (foreigners) living situation is too scattered and according to the Municipal government’s decision, we built a “Chinese Home” for all of the foreigners in the Hi-Tech Zone.”
Chengdu Hi Tech Investment Group, a government investment arm, is the project’s developer and plans also include an “Enlightened Church” to satisfy any of the tenants spiritual needs. The developer partnered with Canadian architects, Zeidler Partnership, the Japanese architectural firm Kume Sekkei and with an architect named “Weisa Honklin” (韦萨·洪科林) from northern Europe. Through these partnerships and through extensive surveys the Hi Tech zone conducted amongst foreigners in Chengdu, (unfortunately Chengdu Living was unaware of and therefore unable to participate in these surveys), CHITG and the Chengdu Municipal government hope to build the first truly international housing complex in western China in the hopes of attracting even more foreign investment.
Reaction to the announcement was swift and critical in some Chinese media. In this essay, entitled “Chengdu Builds a Luxury Complex for Foreigners Only: A Self-Abasement,” the author, Gen Zhai, writes, “one look and this smacks of the old concessions during the Qing Dynasty, but there is one big difference. Back then the foreigners made us do it; this time we are doing it to ourselves.”
In chatrooms across the country, netizens referred to the news as, “New China, New Concession,” in reference to certain Foreign Concessions in Shanghai and Tianjin that gained infamy with their “No Chinese or Dogs allowed” policy.
We have no plans to move into an “all foreigner” housing complex and we will be conducting our own impromptu survey to see if there is great demand for such a complex among other foreigners living in Chengdu.