Friday, 16 August 2013

Expensive Lesson in Humility

Zhang Qibing's bizarre eyesore on the rooftop of a Beijing apartment
It's game over for a wealthy acupuncturist who built a giant outlandish rooftop villa in Beijing that included fake rocks, real greenery and a glass house.

Zhang Biqing told The Beijing News he spent 800,000 yuan ($130,000) building it and would cost much more to take it down.

After it was splashed all over the media earlier this week, the Beijing Municipal Bureau of City Administration and Law Enforcement gave Zhang 15 days to dismantle the giant structure that looked similar to traditional Chinese landscape paintings or it would be demolished.

At first Zhang, owner of a chain of acupuncture clinics called Qi Jin Tang, claimed in an interview with the Beijing Times that the authorities knew about the structure since 2008 and would not have built it without their permission.

"When I began construction, the city administrators came to the site for an inspection," he said. "They agreed that I am a good man. I cure neighbours and the friends of neighbours for free."

The two-storey structure included a glass room and trellises
However, Chen Yu, deputy director with the city administration's Zizhuyuan branch, told The Beijing News they never had any contact with Zhang.

"The biggest challenge is to get inside," Chen was quoted by the paper as saying. The authorities could not get into Zhang's apartment because he never let them in.

"Once we staged a one-week ambush at an underground parking lot but he did not appear," Chen said. Only when the authorities can personally inspect the place can they make a full assessment of the illegal structure.

Local media reported 77-year-old neighbour Lan Yuezhong was beaten up by Zhang three times for filing complaints with the authorities and was forced to move. Zhang claimed Lan was trying to extort money from him.

This rooftop bonanza has been a nuisance to residents of Park View in Haidian for the past six years, and were tired of Zhang boasting of his license to party. "Famous people come to my place to sing. How can you stop them?" he was reported as saying.

Self-proclaimed acupuncturist Zhang Qibing
The residents also complained about the constant construction and claimed the pipes were leaking. Some sold their flats and moved out.

But Zhang's attitude turned 180 degrees after the authorities issued him the notice to demolish the rooftop villa.

We also find out that Zhang didn't have a license to practice either! So how did he make his money from his chain of acupuncture clinics? Were those licensed too?

Any why did it take so long for the authorities to catch onto Zhang's craggy rooftop villa?

What's most interesting about this story is that it's not about an official flaunting his wealth, but a businessman who seems to have had really good guanxi.

We wonder if this is the beginning of the end of Zhang, as more details emerge from his  dodgy past...

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