CHINA – No Parking – affects middle class

No parking

A dearth of parking places riles the new middle class

Mar 24th 2012 | BEIJING | The Economist

AS PROTEST movements go, the recent gathering of rabble-rousers in an underground Beijing car park was hardly momentous. But on a cold, damp night the distress was palpable, and the calls for action heartfelt. The red banner they unfurled said it all: “My car has no home to return to!”

The 30-odd protesters were all residents of the Yinfeng Garden apartments, an upper-middle-class housing development in north-east Beijing. Some have lived there since buying flats ten years ago, at which time they say they were promised the right to rent parking spaces for 300-800 yuan ($50-130) a month for as long as they lived there.

But last year the management suddenly announced that residents would have to buy the spaces, for around 165,000 yuan ($26,000). That’s more than some owners paid for their cars, and many refused to fork out. Spaces were sold to newcomers, and ugly retaliation ensued. Cars were scratched, wing mirrors smashed and tyres slashed. Hot-heads called for yet more direct action, proposing a mass protest in which residents would use cars to blockade the complex. Police were called several times, but did little more than urge people to resolve the disputes themselves.  [more]

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