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Premier sees familiar faces at resettlement community

2014-09-12 09:35 chinadaily.com.cn Web Editor: Wang Fan

Li Zongyi, 79, met a famous acquaintance on Thursday that she had never expected to meet again, let alone have him recognize her.

Premier Li Keqiang visited the construction site of a shantytown's resettlement community in Tianjin on Thursday morning, where, in a semifinished building, he again met Li Zongyi and her daughter. The women had come to see the apartments that will soon be available for them and their neighbors.

"I remember you," the premier said when he stepped inside and saw the two women. "I go to lots of places and see many people. But your faces are so vivid in my memory since your desire to move into a new house was genuine."

Premier Li previously visited the Xiyuzhuang community in Tianjin during a one-day trip to the port city last December.

During that trip, he visited several families, including Li Zongyi's.

The premier promised residents in December that they would be able to move into their new apartments this year.

On Thursday, Li Zongyi told the premier the new apartments are much better than the one-story house where her family has lived for decades.

The Xiyuzhuang community is one of the oldest inland shantytowns, covering 64 hectares and with low-income residents comprising 20 percent of its households. More than 80 percent of families in Xiyuzhuang live in houses of less than 20 square meters.

Shi Zhihui, another resident of Xiyuzhuang who came to see her future home, said her family is eager to move.

"We have five people in the family and we live in a place of about 19 square meters. The house leaked once again last week after days of rain. We had to place pots and baskets to catch the leaking water," she said.

Like many shantytown resettlement projects, Xiyuzhuang involves high construction and compensation costs, which has hindered the resettlement of residents for more than 10 years.

The local branch of the China Development Bank Corp put up the initial capital needed for the project in 2013 and, as compensation for constructing the resettlement community, will be allowed to use the original land of the Xiyuzhuang community for commercial development.

On the national level, a State Council meeting in June pledged to improve housing conditions for the underprivileged and to promote urbanization by accelerating shantytown reform.

Chen Zhenggao, former governor of Liaoning province, was appointed the minister of Housing and Urban-Rural Development in June. Chen is known for the rebuilding of large areas of shantytown in Liaoning during his term in the northeast province.

As of 2013, China has solved the housing problems of 2.18 million households from shantytown areas and embarked on projects to solve such problems for another 3.23 million households, 6 percent higher than planned.

China Development Bank Corp received a three-year Pledged Supplementary Lending facility of 1 trillion yuan ($163 billion) from the People's Bank of China, which will be allocated to the housing finance department of the nation's largest policy lender.

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