Haidian district urban management official Dai Jun said Tuesday that authorities would tear the two-story structure down in 15 days unless the owner does so himself or presents evidence it was legally built

BEIJING A medicine mogul spent six years building his own private mountain peak and luxury villa atop a high-rise apartment block in China’s capital, earning the unofficial title of “most outrageous illegal structure.” Now, authorities are giving him 15 days to tear it down.

The craggy complex of rooms, rocks, trees and bushes looming over the 26-story building looks like something built into a seaside cliff, and has become the latest symbol of disregard for the law among the rich as well as the rampant practice of building illegal additions.

Angry neighbors say they’ve complained for years that the unauthorized, 8,600-square-foot mansion and its attached landscaping were damaging the building’s structural integrity and its pipe system, but that local authorities failed to crack down. They’ve also complained about loud, late-night parties.

“They’ve been renovating for years. They normally do it at night,” said a resident on the building’s 25th floor, who added that any attempts to reason with the owner were met with indifference. “He was very arrogant. He could care less about my complaints,” said the neighbor, who declined to give his name to avoid repercussions.

Haidian district urban management official Dai Jun said Tuesday that authorities would tear the two-story structure down in 15 days unless the owner does so himself or presents evidence it was legally built. Dai said his office has yet to receive such evidence.

The villa’s owner has been identified as the head of a traditional Chinese medicine business and former member of the district’s political advisory body who resides on the building’s 26th floor. Contacted by Beijing Times newspaper, the man said he would comply with the district’s orders, but he belittled attempts to call the structure a villa, calling it “just an ornamental garden.”

Authorities took action only after photos of the villa were splashed across Chinese media on Monday. Newspapers have fronted their editions with large photographs of the complex, along with the headline “Beijing’s most outrageous illegal structure.”

The case has resonance among ordinary Chinese who regularly see the rich and politically connected receive special treatment. Expensive vehicles lacking license plates are a common sight, while luxury housing complexes that surround Beijing and other cities are often built on land appropriated from farmers with little compensation.

China’s leader Xi Jinping has vowed to crack down on official corruption, and Beijing itself launched a campaign earlier this year to demolish illegal structures, although the results remain unclear.

Demand for property remains high, however, and the rooftop extralegal mansion construction is far from unique. A developer in the central city of Hengyang recently got into hot water over an illegally built complex of 25 villas on top of a shopping center. He later won permission to keep the villas intact as long as they weren’t sold to others.

While all land in China technically belongs to the state — with homebuyers merely given 70-year leases — the rules are often vague, leaving questions of usage rights and ownership murky.

A city in Sichuan province recently caused a minor stir when it was discovered to have cut the length of land leases from the normal 70 years to just 40 years.

The local government’s response to public queries drew even more jeers. Officials posted a statement online maintaining that the law allows for lease periods of less than 70 years and 토토사이트 adding: “Who knows if we’ll still be in this world in 40 years. Don’t think too long-term.”

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In it, Garzon, a slightly-built 52-year-old with short-cropped gray hair and glasses, appears shaken and at times hesitant. He sits in a simple chair in front of the judge, with four rows of chairs behind him in the small courtroom. Garzon is wearing a dark jacket and trousers with an open-necked shirt. Behind him are two men in dark uniforms, and several other unidentified people are in the room. He also answers questions from a prosecutor. Garzon’s testimony added little new to what is already known about the crash on the evening of July 24 as the high-speed train, carrying 218 people in eight carriages, approached the capital of Spain’s northwestern Galician region. But the video was the public’s first look at the court testimony of the driver who walked away from the accident with a gash in his head. ABC said its footage showed 18 minutes of excerpts from the full 55-minute session, accompanied by what it said was a transcript of the full session. The paper said it obtained a copy of the video that the court took of the session but has not made public. The train had been going as fast as 119 mph (192 kph) shortly before the derailment. The driver activated the brakes “seconds before the crash,” reducing the speed to 95 mph (153 kph), according to the court’s preliminary findings based on black box data recorders. The speed limit on the section of track where the crash happened was 50 mph (80 kph). In his Sunday night testimony, Garzon said he was going far over the speed limit and ought to have started slowing down several miles (kilometers) before he reached the notorious curve. Asked whether he ever hit the brakes, Garzon replied, “The electric one, the pneumatic one … all of them. Listen, when … but it was already inevitable.” His voice shakes, his sentences break down and he appears close to tears as he replies to a question about what was going through his mind when he went through the last tunnel before the curve. “If I knew that I wouldn’t think it because the burden that I am going to carry for the rest of my life is huge,” he said. “And I just don’t know. The only thing I know, your honor, sincerely, is that I don’t know. I’m not so crazy that I wouldn’t put the brakes on.” Garzon said that after the derailment he called central control in Madrid about the accident. “At the speed I was going and the smashup, though I couldn’t see what was behind me. I knew what I was up against and I knew it was inevitable that there was a calamity and so (I called Madrid) to activate the emergency protocol,” he testified. Garzon also explained a photograph on his Facebook page which showed a train speedometer registering 124 mph (200 kph). He said he took the photo “as a laugh or whatever you want to call it” while a colleague was driving a test train on a different track some time ago. His Facebook page was taken down shortly after the crash. It is not known who removed it. The investigating judge is trying to establish whether human error or a technical failure caused the country’s worst rail accident in decades, and Garzon is at the center of the investigation. The judge provisionally charged Garzon on Sunday with multiple counts of negligent homicide. Garzon was not sent to jail or required to post bail because none of the parties involved felt there was a risk of him fleeing or attempting to destroy evidence, according to a court statement. National rail company Renfe said Garzon is an employee with 30 years of experience who became an assistant driver in 2000 and a fully qualified driver in 2003. Garzon went back to court, voluntarily, to offer more testimony on Wednesday. In that second appearance, he said he was talking by phone to the train’s on-board ticket inspector moments before the accident and hung up just before the train left the tracks. But that contradicted what the court said the black boxes showed – that Garzon was on the phone at the time of the derailment. The court said the inspector would testify Friday as a witness. It said the judge has ruled that while the phone call was inappropriate it could not be considered a cause of the accident. Health authorities say 57 people from the crash are still in the hospital, 11 of them in critical condition.
The man behind this mountain is Zhang Biqing. He is known as successful practitioner of Chinese medicine and was a member of a political body that advised the ruling communist party. Neighbors told us they felt powerless to stop this villa as it took shape — one foam rock at a time. Now, the government says it will force demolition — if the owner does not tear it down first. Until then, it would remain a monumental example of ignoring the law.

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