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The human cost of building Shanghai Disneyland


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  • The human cost of building Shanghai Disneyland

    SHANGHAI -- It took years and all of the family's life savings, but in 2008, retiree Wang Quanlin finally completed his dream home. It was spacious, two stories with an attic, and had new furnishings inside.
    Then last fall came an unexpected notice from the Shanghai city government. The entire area had been slated for a new development project -- a Disneyland theme park. The Wang family would have to move, and their house would be demolished.

    The Wangs' uphill legal battle to stay in their home, or to get what they consider fair compensation, is about to end. The government is set to turn over the land in July for the $3.5 billion Disney project, and the family -- having exhausted its protests and appeals -- will be relocated to two much smaller apartments.

    "We support Disneyland, but we hate these forced demolitions," said Wang's son, Wang Yuchen, 30, who took a leave of absence from his job as an engineer to fight the eviction. "The whole process is unfair. It's unequal."

    ...... In Wuhan, west of Shanghai in Hubei province, a farmer named Yang Youde became a local media sensation when he built a cannon, stuffed it with fireworks and fired it at a team sent to evict him from the farmland he leased. Last year, several people were reported to have set themselves on fire when eviction teams arrived to remove them. And this year, homeowners have clashed with demolition squads, which often resort to tactics such as cutting off water and electricity to holdouts' homes.
    [full article] Washington Post: Disneyland project in Shanghai spotlights forced evictions in China

    It’s easy to forget that peoples lives are being compromised by the Disney corporation’s second theme park foray in China. In the construction of all previous Disney parks, I don’t think there has ever been an instance where the people’s homes were displaced because the local government imposed forced evictions. EuroDisney opened in the rural outskirts of Paris (all the French people that complained of EuroDisney being “cultural imperialism”? Look at China. This is worse.), and parks that opened in densely populated cities like Tokyo and Hong Kong were built on reclaimed land from the bay.

    After the failure that is the Hong Kong park and recent moves to downsize the Shanghai resort, is this all really necessary? If it means infiltrating a growing market as quickly as possible for the Disney empire, I guess so.

    I’m surprised that environmentalists raised such a controversy in the international media about shark fin soup, but an entire section of a city being removed and thousands of people being displaced so that an American corporation can build a theme park barely gets any attention. I guess it’s because this type of stuff isn’t exclusive to the Disney project - mass forced evictions for the greater “public good” are commonplace in China (this happened on a larger scale for the 2008 Olympics and Shanghai Expo); a small aspect of the broader absence of basic freedoms the Chinese people lack. But it's still fundamentally wrong, in my opinion.

    And yeah yeah yeah, we're all giddy with excitement about a new Disney theme park; the park might turn out to be a success for the city and for the Chinese people to enjoy; this type of stuff happens all the time; they’ll resettle in their small apartments and be (unfairly) compensated. But don’t forget the human cost - the families that have to resettle their entire lives with meager compensation as described in this story, because Disney just needed to build a second Magic Kingdom in China.
    Last edited by WDWizard; 08-19-2010, 07:12 PM.

  • #2
    Re: The human cost of building Shanghai Disneyland

    Peoples lives are being unfairly compromised by things you do every day. And yours is being unfairly compromised by others. Another word for this is economics.

    For instance, the energy that is powering your computer may have been extracted in the Niger Delta where far worse things are happening to the local populace than unfairly compensated forced relocation.

    Or the Indian who picked the banana you ate yesterday is developing tumors from pesticide exposure.

    Or the plastic bag you threw away 2 weeks ago just choked an endangered sea turtle in the South Atlantic.

    Of the myriad of planetary problems and injustices to be concerned about, I'd put the Shanghai Disney relocations on the back burner.

    "It's a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world..."
    Last edited by RandySavage; 08-19-2010, 08:48 PM.


    • #3
      With all due respect:

      I don't use plastic bags because of their environmental hazard, and the energy I use is extracted from some power plant in Florida. Besides, food and energy consumption are fundamentally different than building theme parks. It's not a necessity. But, yeah, point taken. There is a ripple effect to every action in the economy. Doesn't mean certain injustices can't be corrected. Tell a family displaced because of the park that oh well, it "just economics," have fun starting your lives over on your meager compensation, because I'd rather have a Disney theme park empire than that house you spent your life building. The least that could be done is for Disney and the government to make sure these people are fairy compensated.
      Maybe your ideas for a "Disney theme park empire" are getting in the way of viewing mass forced evictions as somewhat of a human rights issue? Sure, its just a minor injustice in the bigger picture of the global economy, and I'm not saying that it's the number one issue on the planet to be concerned about, but its just notable to point out in the midst of all the armchair imagineering and speculating about the Shanghai park in this forum. Also I thought it was an interesting article.:blush:
      Last edited by WDWizard; 08-19-2010, 10:32 PM.


      • #4
        Re: The human cost of building Shanghai Disneyland

        ^ The key sentence in that two-month old article is "get what they consider fair compensation" What they (the family quoted) consider "fair" may be much more than the value of their property - in proceedings like this you always ask for more than you want and get less than you ask for.

        Is there any evidence the compensation to relocated families has been "meager". They moved to 2 smaller apts, which likely excludes additional cash equal to the inflated value of their larger home. Why would they still "support Disneyland" if their life savings was getting stripped away?

        My understanding is that land values in that area have been greatly inflated due to speculation & rumors of the coming Disney resort, so the govt. compensation package is likely much more than what the land was worth 5 years ago.

        In fact, when the Disney deal solidified last year, there were news stories about delighted & "entrepreneurial" property-owners quickly adding on to their homes in order to increase their government windfall (of course the govt. assessors came in to stop this). It is the wild west of capitalism in Shanghai and I'm sure the vast majority of those getting bought out/relocated are thrilled, like lottery winners. Of course, there are always a handful of people that don't want to go, regardless of the money.

        Eminent domain relocations like this are a non-story in China (in the U.S. and elsewhere), but because Disney is a headline-grabbing company (particularly when they do non-friendly things), it makes the Washington Post.

        Is it right and fair to force someone to move who doesn't want to? What if it is for the greater good of the city? Disney is bringing jobs & development and likely higher property value to thousands in the area - does that trump the freedom of a few families. I'm not saying it does or that Disney is right, just that it is an issue with many shades of gray (like everything) and not worth getting worked up over.

        And good on you for not using plastic bags...
        Last edited by RandySavage; 08-19-2010, 11:03 PM.


        • #5
          Re: The human cost of building Shanghai Disneyland

          in Communist china, mouse exterminate you!
          This is what happens when the government has control like this, and you think THIS is a huge cost of human life? believe me if Disney never even thought about building a park there, those people could have very well suffered a simpler fate at the hands of their government. and i am not even saying Disney is even CLOSE to innocent in this mess, it makes me sick that they are even going along with this.
          So. Zetta. SLOW!


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