(Source: www.straitstimes.com)

BEIJING – Residents in a high-end apartment block in China’s capital were surprised to find that they were living above an underground slum, reports said.

Julong Gardens near Workers’ Stadium was one of the first high-end residential developments in Beijing. There are both offices and residential units in the block.

It has an air raid shelter in the basement which was converted into cramped rooms for rent, the Voice of China reported.

Residents were initially unaware but they realised that more new faces were entering and leaving the building.

A recent inspection found living quarters for up to 400 people, who share one emergency exit.

They lived in dozens of tiny rooms which have no windows, the report said.

There were shared rooms where up to 36 beds were placed, single rooms, cooking facilities and even a smoking room, said a Beijing Daily report.

A single room costs 1,300 yuan (S$264) a month, an underground resident told reporters. This is about a tenth of what a regular tenant would pay to stay in the high-rise.

It is a mystery thus far who is benefiting from these arrangements as the building owners claim they did not know about the slum.

The basement is officially government property belonging to the Dongcheng District Civil Defence Bureau and the Bureau has probably subleased it to others, the report said.

Beijing authorities have been cracking down on such underground rentals, which are popular with poor immigrants.

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