Recently, I found I often run into conflicts with safeguards – the safeguard at my residential area and the safeguard at the place where I had worked. Actually, this is very similar to the story of the mason in my post The World with Different Rules
The Story of the Safeguard
Many weeks ago, I went to Metro Tower to pickup stuff of Wendy. The safeguard closed the entrance to the load/unload area, and do not allow me to stop before the load area. He even ignored the fact that I just paid 30 RMB for parking at the parking lot, and just wanted to drive into the load/unload area.
I asked “Why as tenant of the building, why we cannot use the load area to pickup personal stuff – pretty heavy box”. This was his answer that drove me crazy:
“This is our company’s place. We do whatever we want. It is none of your business.”
The same situation happens with the property management company. The safeguards there obviously treat their manager’s order higher than any residents, and they think they are policeman, and the residents are people who they manage.
The “real” policemen in China, and government officials hold that kind of stupid attitude, and think they are the ruler, and all others are just fellow common people. I believe that takes longer to change, since it is definitely a political reform, and that cost time. But what surprises me is, in the private property like residential area, and office building, the property management company holds the same view.
It is obviously not productive when I explain to them how it works – they just don’t listen and laughed at me “Who you think you are?” was the typical answer.
This is how I see it.
Take the residential area as example. The real estate development company pays the government (ridiculously high) price to get 70 years of usage right of the land. The real estate company borrow money to build the house. Then they sell it, and transfer the right of the land to the owners of the house (unlike in most countries, in China, house owners still don’t own the land, they just own the usage right of 70 years, and the land still belongs to the government, but this is irrelevant in this case). The certificate of that right is called “Big Certificate of Property” 大产证. Then each house owner has the certificate for their small unit, called “Small Certificate of Property”.
Simply put, the residents collectively are the owners of the whole area.
The owners hires the management company to manage the property, but all rights, including the car parking lots, and all the money in the bank account for maintaining the property, belong to the house owners. Not the property management company, and of cause not the safeguard.
The funny situation is, very few people really understand it. (Correct me if I am wrong here) I asked many of my friends (who are the house owners) and they cannot tell the whole story. I am not that surprised to see most of safeguards don’t know it.
So, that is the conflict. The safeguard thinks they are the Owner of the Place, and I think I am. When the two owners see each other, conflicts are inevitable.
People are talking about political reform. But I am more concerned with the democracy on the residential area level. Before many people understand how private property works, and understand who are the owner, it is hard for people to really understand that the common people are the owners of this country, not someone else.
Jianshuo, I think security guard will be a better word.
Enjoyed your blog.
In China, all “property owners” are actually the lessee of the leasehold estate, the country does not permit freehold where the ownership of the property is purchased outright.
Mao said “the land belongs to the people” (actually to the “People’s Government”), no wonder the guards of your estate are under the impression that they are the ultimate owners of your estate.
Just look at those old buildings along the bund, who actually built it and who actually own it now.
i think policemen everywhere have that mentality, and not necessarily completely because of china’s political system. ultimately, i think it is the ability to wield power that really fuels these people. police in the US are the same way. They don’t care to be reasonable b/c they know they are the ones with power. If you disagree with them too much, they’ll just claim civil disorder and arrest you.
a huge story the last couple of weeks in the US is about the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates in his own home by Cambridge police. check out http://www.boston.com/news/local/breaking_news/2009/07/harvard.html
You do not have to listen to them. They are only security guards.
I have had security guards at my compound to stupid things, too. Once Dell came and exchanged a new monitor for one that wasn’t working. Security wouldn’t let Dell take the monitor out of the compound. When the Dell technician came back and told me, I went with him and the security guard wouldn’t even let me take it out. He stated I needed a permission slip from the management office — which was now closed. We argued about this for a minute or two and finally I told him I am taking my monitor out and if he got in my way he would get hurt. Later I and several other property owners in the complex wrote a letter to the management office reminding them that we have the power to fire them and obtain new management. They changed the policy and now the security people only will keep a log of people who remove property from the premesis and only actually stop those who do not live there.
They also used to ask me for ID. I told them you are not a police officer so have no authority to demand ID from anybody. The guy then said “How do I know you live here? If I don’t know you live here I can’t let you enter.” So I told him I own my property here and have lived here over ten years. I am the only foreigner living here. If you are too foolish to realize that then you should get a new job. Besides, do you remember all of the thousands of other Chinese people who live here? I don’t see you asking them for ID. They stopped asking me for ID after that.
A couple of years ago they asked for a copy of my passport. They said it was required by the police. I told them when the police come and knock on my door, I’ll show them my ID.
Actually, I think most of the time these people are just trying to do their job to the best of their ability. The problem is that the management center tells them to do these things. The best thing is to talk with the management center and remind them they are only our employees and they can be replaced if the majority of property owners vote to replace them.
I got the same experiences with you. Sometimes I’m gonna crazy.
It is the result of polarization of rich and poor, the poor are getting agitated at the rich, but the rich love to show their wealth, and the sentiment goes on forever………………………remember 20 years ago, classless people (including police) are so friendly to each other.
From the story Jianshuo said here, honestly, I can conclude that the service industry in China needs to be improved, but even much faster.
sad to say… it also happen in some organization or some leader. They shape the same thinking… only I do the talking you don’t talk… just follow order… sigh…