The Demise of Zhang Biqing’s Penthouse

Published on Author Kit

Zhang Biqing is a powerful Chinese healthcare magnate who has made millions through his medical clinics and acupuncture treatment therapy. Mr. Zhang spent six years and an estimated $4 million to construct this penthouse apartment. Until recently, his idyllic dwelling its atop at 26-story luxury apartment complex in Beijing.

Tenants of the building complained the noise of ongoing construction for six years was hard to live with. Additionally, Mr. Zhang is reported to have hosted large karaoke parties lasting late into the evenings. Mr. Zhang commented that when you have famous guests that want to sing, you are in no position to stop them.

The apartment, which is more a modern blend of steel and glass mixed with a synthetic rocky landscape, is completely illegal. Beijing officials made repeated attempts to enter the premises for zoning and code enforcement but were kept out by Mr. Zhang and his guards. One report indicates that a neighbor who went to complain to Mr. Zhang in person was beaten. This story is particularly interesting due to China’s issues with corruption and the disparity between the wealthy and poor as China continues to develop.

This story highlights the problem in an interesting manner. Mr. Zhang was a local delegate to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, an advisory body to the ruling Communist Party. This building turned into an egg on the face of the Communist Party as it was one of their own members using his wealth and power while disregarding the rules.

Mr. Zheng was originally unapologetic about his misdoings but has now switched his stance saying it was a huge mistake. It is important to note that the apartment itself was quite appealing looking and many people enjoyed how it shook up the skyline. Law enforcement has given Mr. Zheng 15 days to dismantle the penthouse.


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3 Responses to The Demise of Zhang Biqing’s Penthouse

  1. Kit’s article emphasizes not only the income inequality within China but the ability for those with a sufficiently high net worth to manipulate or circumvent the law. For six years, Mr. Zhang was able to prevent local Beijing officials from performing their duty. Despite the repeated attempts outlined by Kit, Mr. Zhang’s personal security inhibited the officials’ ability to properly monitor and enforce both zoning and coding laws. The proliferation of this type of blatant disregard for the law is unsettling. The ability for a government to enforce the rule of law is key to economic development. If the well-off are able to skirt the regulations that impact those less well-off, entrepreneurship will be negatively impacted. When small-business owners are attempting to conduct daily business, but they cannot be certain that the wealthy will not take advantage of them at any time, since the rule of low can be circumvented, investment will be stifled. A clear headwind to the overall economy.
    Along the same lines, the obvious factor of income inequality is also at play. The penthouse apartment complex was estimated to cost roughly $4 million. In Tom Miller’s piece, he highlights that the national average monthly salary for workers in 2011 was $510 (21). In a country home to the most millionaires, the clear discrepancy indicates the significant room for development still necessary in China.

    Works Cited:
    “China’s Urban Billion” by Tom Miller

  2. I agree with the previous authors, but think more simply that this is an example of how the rule of law is slowly but surely becoming more prevalent in China. The fact he ultimately could not pull enough guanxi to save it indicates China’s system can sort out injustices, albeit incredibly slowly.

  3. After reading the comments I like what Mark has mentioned pertaining to the rule of law becoming more prevalent in China. I feel my initial analysis focused too much on the malfeasance and not on the fact that the government has successfully put an end to a bad example of corruption.