Hundreds of Illegal Underground Shelters Removed Near Tiananmen

By Justine Lopez, March 6, 2017

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Officials have begun the process of demolishing hundreds of the illegal rooms and structures that help make up Beijing’s massive underground city, Global Times reports. The government previously announced plans to tear down roughly 14,000 square meters of these illegal buildings this year. 

Last week, over 700 underground rooms in the community of Hepingmen, near Tiananmen Square, were removed. It is estimated that 350 people inhabited these spaces and needed to be relocated.

Since the beginning of the year, workers have demolished nearly 13,862 square meters of illegal shelters and 1,157 rooms. They have reportedly assisted the over 2,000 residents who inhabited these rooms and bunkers in finding new accommodation. 

Residents did receive notice that their homes would be destroyed. Water and electricity was later cut to the units. 

The plan is to develop the capital's underground areas to create much-needed facilities, including parking lots. 

According to a recent article by National Geographic, it is estimated that over 1 million people inhabit Beijing’s underground world. Although no one knows exactly how many people live in the cramped apartments, it is reported that most residents are either migrant workers or students who come to Beijing from rural areas to study. 

Thousands of subterranean bomb shelters were built in the late 1960s and ‘70s – the height of the Cold War – under the direction of Chairman Mao. Roughly 10,000 bunkers were built in Beijing in anticipation of a nuclear bomb. 

[Images via]

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