Ultra-luxury seaside villas demolished over environmental violations

Business & Technology

Authorities in Qingdao, a coastal city in China’s Shandong Province, have knocked down dozens of beachfront villas that were classified by the local government as illegal structures in violation of environmental regulations.

beach

SupChina illustration by Derek Zheng

Authorities in Qingdao, a coastal city in China’s Shandong Province, have knocked down dozens of beachfront villas that were classified by the local government as illegal structures in violation of environmental regulations.

The large-scale demolition, which involved more than 40 ultra-luxury houses with a combined worth exceeding 2.5 billion yuan ($352 million), was brought to the public’s attention last week thanks to a video (in Chinese) of the properties being torn down, sparking speculation about the purpose of the action.

Local officials say the villas were destroyed with permission from their owners, who had received compensation based on the market value of their properties. Unsurprisingly, it’s reported that the affected residents were mostly big-business billionaires and pop stars. One of them was Fàn Bīngbīng 范冰冰, China’s highest-paid actress, who mysteriously disappeared from the public eye for several months in 2018 due to a tax scandal.

But many critical observers have expressed doubt (in Chinese) about how the construction was allowed in the first place, and whether the demolition was economically and environmentally sound.