Chaohu. Picture by Louisa Lim.
Chaohu government building. Picture by Louisa Lim.
A few days ago I had a conversation with my eldest daughter who works in Sunset Beach, Southern California. It was hard for the inhabitants to accept but at least they had the opportunity to know that their ¨nobody´s land¨ would become part of Huntington Beach (Orange County), instead of belonging to Los Angeles. Many people aroused their voices, the consequences, some irregular businesses had to close, and now police is everywhere. The neighborhood looks the same, but it isn´t.
Now, I´m reading about Chaohu, that´s worst because it seems the inhabitants didn´t know the City would disappear -administratively speaking- and what is worst, it was degraded, now it´s a town.
¨Imagine a city like Los Angeles disappearing from the map completely. That's exactly what happened to Chaohu, a city in eastern China's Anhui province with a similar population — about 4 million. The people have remained, but the city has vanished in an administrative sleight of hand.
That was the Kafkaesque reality for Chaohu's inhabitants, who went to bed one night and woke up the morning of Aug. 22 to find out that their city no longer existed. For many, their first inkling that something had changed was from the local news.
"Anhui province is today announcing the cancellation of Chaohu city," the broadcast said. It went on to explain that the city once known as Chaohu had been divided into three. The nearby cities of Hefei, Wuhu and Ma'anshan each absorbed a piece of territory. The broadcast confusingly described the move as "an inherent need at a certain level of economic growth."
(...) Rumors had circulated for a few weeks beforehand, but there had been no public consultation and no official notice, with residents not being told about the new boundaries in advance.
This division of Chaohu has led to some strange anomalies.
For example, in Lintou town, a bridge serves as the new boundary dividing Hefei from Ma'anshan. This means that, for some, the five-minute bicycle ride between home and work has become a trip from Hefei to Ma'anshan and vice versa. The residents of Lintou complain that the redistricting is illogical. (....)In the longer term, residents worry that being hitched to Ma'anshan will be bad for their village. Everyone is aware that Hefei is the major beneficiary of this move: Its area will increase by 40 percent, and it will become the biggest city in China in terms of area, according to the local media.
Hefei will also now take over the whole of Chao Lake, after which the city was named. Some argue this is good for the lake, since Hefei will be able to spend more money cleaning it up.
Read the article by Louisa Lim: