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China: Homeowners hold their ground

How does China's landmark, much-blogged about new property law relate to the average citizen? An illustration comes with the decision by two residents of central China's Chongqing Municipality to hold their ground when the land upon which the house they purchased had been sold, then dug up, by a developer which then successfully had the courts rule to evict her and her co-habitant, Yang Wu.

nail.jpg

Smelling a story, journalists from all across the country rushed to the city [zh] to see what would happen when the owner, Wu Ping, ran out of time to evacuate her ‘nail house‘ at midnight on March 21. In the meantime, Wu set up her own blog and released this video:

Chinese netizens had already been blogging the story for a couple weeks, and the comment flow reached a peak this week with bbs members almost unanimously posting in support of Wu and Yang, many casting the couple as heroes, fighting for the rule of law. On the evening of March 21, popular forum Cat989 set up a thread for readers to report the latest news and in less than 48 hours has seen over 8300 responses and forum Tianya's live updates thread not far behind. Readers kept the threading moving with worried comments, in-person feedback and self-shot photos flooding in non-stop straight through a second night until the morning of March 23. Netease had initially set up a space for open comment but quickly shut it down, later opening another space. Xici Hutong's Reporter's Home forum also had some great photos pouring in, but all that can be seen there now is the following message:

媒介评论——做媒体沟通新渠道[直接访问地址:reporter.xici.net]网友观点不代表本版立场,注意发言的客观、理性,请不要讨论跟媒体和编辑记者本身没有关系的话题。本版保留删帖的权力。

Netizens’ viewpoints do not represent that of this forum. Be aware of being objective and rational when posting, and please do not discuss subjects that have no relation to the work of journalists and editors. This forum reserves the right to delete posts.

Here's what citizen journalists have been liveblogging about the situation at the nail house. The following few comments were left on the Tianya forum in the following order between 10:17 and 10:32 on the morning of March 21:

中国基本上是党最大,情大于法。法是上层阶级压迫老百姓的工具而已。

In China, The Party is the biggest, and connections are stronger than the law. The law is a tool the upper classes use to suppress the common people and nothing more.

可怜的还是老百姓

Us poor civilians

中国从来不缺少法律,缺少的是法律的执行。法律前面不是人人平等,这样的法律能起多大的效力?!

China has never had a lack of laws, what it lacks is enforcement. If people are not equal before the law, how effective can this kind of law be?!

能有重庆网友现场直播拆迁全过程就好了,拍个DV

It would be great if some Chongqing netizens could go down to the scene and film the process of the eviction life.

我觉得这个钉子户的肯定有背景,要不然的话……

There's gotta be some hidden influence behind this nail house, otherwise…

中国有人权么?
我都这么老了,还没有见过人权长什么样儿呢!

China has human rights?
I'm so old and I've never seen human rights look like this before!

Here are some more randomly-chosen comments of the tens of thousands in the nail house thread at Tianya:

crystal369, 14:44:38, March 21
体制不改变,司法不独立,百姓永远是鱼肉。
按《土地法》规定:不是必须由吴女士将土地使用权出让给 开发商,开发商才能办理土地使用权过户手续吗?房管局有何权力裁决吴女士将房子卖给开发商?吴女士的房子不卖,犯了中国哪部法?哪条罪??公权力房管局还真TMD 强买强卖,这样的公权力比土匪还恶劣100倍!!法院还支持,无赖

crystal369, 14:44:38, March 21
If the system doesn't change, if the judiciary isn't made independent, the people will always be fish food.
According to land law, in order for the developer to proceed with development, doesn't the right to use the land need to be given to the developer by Ms. Wu herself?

hzwsx01, 16:09:59, March 21
土地是国家的,没错;
  但是请记住:
  1>人家可以使用土地70年,这点可是在土地使用证上说明了的.现在人家没满,就没资格要求别人搬;
  2>七十年到了,OK,你可以去挖归国家所有的”土地”,但是土地上的房屋,对不起,请不要动人家的.有种你能把人家的房屋下面的土地整个搬走呀..如果因你的动作,坏了人家的建筑,不好意思,你同样得承担责任了.

The land is the state's, you're right.
But remember:
1) People can use land for seventy years, this is stated clearly on the land use licence. Now if they're unhappy, they don't have the qualifications to force others to move;
2) Seventy years is up, okay, you can go dig up the state's land, but as for the houses on the land, sorry, please don't be moving other people's homes. If you've got the balls you can move out all the land beneath other people's homes…but if in doing so you break other people's property, sorry, you're still going to have to pay for it.

Laughing as I throw a brick, 22:34:12, March 21
  不知道上面骂我的人有没有很仔细的看过这个新闻.
  1,开发商给他的赔偿价是240-350万.在所处地段已经是非常适合的价格,不存在故意压价的行为.
  2,我已经说了,如果是合法权益应该保护.他开口就是2000万
  难道你觉得能够实现?如果他能成为榜样,那就不用加法律了.

I don't know if the people cursing up above have looked carefully at the news.
1. The developer offered her compensation of 2.4-3.5 million RMB. For where it's located, that's an extremely appropriate price, not price-squashing whatsoever.
2. I've already said, her legitimate rights ought to be protected. But the first thing she said was twenty million RMB. Do you really think this will work? If this becomes a precedent, there won't be need for any more laws.

And here begin the posts in which bloggers in Chongqing posted what they saw:

作者:白天与黑夜YL 回复日期:2007-3-22 00:26:00
我们去的时候旁边的面包车司机对我们说的.最开始开发商要给钉子户他们3百50万.结果钉子户觉得少了.结果最后法院评估是2百47万.这下钉子户就急了.

Day and Night, 00:26:00, March 22
When we went down, one truck drive told us that in the beginning the developer had offered 3.5 million RMB for the nail house. Later, the owner decided that was a little low. Finally, the court estimated its worth at 2.47 million RMB, and that's when owner started to get worked up.

作者:sunning_xu 回复日期:2007-3-22 15:10:00
攻城开始,现场已经在封锁中,众多围观的普通市民都被大范围的栅栏隔离在施工范围之外。
只听得现场一片混乱,哭声,叫喊声,机器轰鸣声,吹呼声,声声入耳,但是不知道里面究竟发生了什么?

sunning_xu, 15:10:00, 2007-3-22
The siege has begun, the site has already been locked down, and the civilians crowding around have been blocked out of the area by a construction fence.
I can only hear some chaos inside, crying, shouting, the roar of machinery, lots of noise, but I don't know what's actually happening inside.

作者: 射日一号 回复日期:2007-3-22 15:33:22 
1点40分左右,施工方工人将一个牌子放到施工地点,上面写着:危险,严禁攀爬!
现场还没有拆迁的动作!

Day 1 Shot the Sun, 15:33:22, March 22
At around 1:40, the workers put a sign in the workpit which reads: Danger! Forbidden to climb!
Tearing down has yet to begin!

作者: alex_kang 回复日期:2007-3-22 17:36:02 
网易现场直播的贴子已经被删除.天涯也快了.

Alex Kang, 17:36:02, March 22
Netease's at-scene live broadcasting has been deleted. Tianya will be soon.

作者: phoebus_chen 回复日期:2007-3-22 18:07:25 
先文字汇报一下今天下午3点左右我专门过去看到的情况:
我是2点50到的现场,由于地面视界有限,看不能里面的情况,我在轻轨的站台上做的观察的拍摄。事实上这个位置很好,距离钉子户不过20M,房子的窗口正对着轻轨车站,看到老杨好几次,他不停在房间里走动,时不是跟另外一面的记者的挥挥手。中间也有几次在房间内活动了一下拳脚,看来他精神不错,也很知道保持体能。吴姐同志在下面接待记者,3点左右现场大概有20名记者在采访她,这次她好像有所准备,提供一些书面的资料在散发。每当老杨露出头时,她也会激动地跟他挥挥手,看得出,她是非常担心的。陆续还有电视台扛摄像机的记者赶到现场加入采访。到4点我走时已经有大概5台摄像机在现场了。

Phoebus Chen, 18:07:25, March 22
Just report a few words here of what I saw after going down to check out the situation:
I arrived at the scene at 2:50 pm, and because there's limited view of the inside, I couldn't see what was happening. I stood on the railway track to observe and took a few photos. Actually, this was a good spot, just twenty meters from the nail house. The house's windows face opposite from the railway track and I saw old Yang a few times. He didn't stop moving inside the house, often waving at journalists on the other side. He did some kicking and punching exercises from inside the room a few times, looks like he's doing well and keeps himself fit. Ms. Wu Comrade was down below talking to reporters. Around three pm about twenty journalists came into the pit to interview her. It looked like she was ready this time, even passing out some information. Whenever old Yang would stick his head out she would excitedly wave to him. Looks like she's really happy. One after another, tv camerapeople hurried into the pit for interviews. By four pm there were already about five tv stations there.

Here's a picture posted by weibeeling at 18:33:58, March 22

weibeeling.jpg
Owner Wu Ping accepting interviews from media

And a few more from Yi Wen at 21:38:12, March 22:

从下午1点30分开始,工地方面已经在切断通往小楼的道路,原本在小楼周围的记者也被清理出现场,只能在较远的地方拍摄。到2点的时候,基本已经将道路封闭,封闭处加固完成。

Starting at 1:30 pm, the workers had already blocked off the little road to the house and all the surrounding reporters were cleared out, leaving them to film from far away. At 2 pm, the whole area had pretty much been blocked off.

yiwenpic.jpg

yiwen2.jpg

yiwen3.jpg

yiwen4.jpg

Continuing:

作者:射日一号 回复日期:2007-3-22 21:50:27 
房屋里面漆黑一片,没有任何动静。现场围观的几百名群众还没有散去,而且越聚越多。

Day 1 Shot the Sun, 21:50:27, March 22
It's pitch black inside the house, no movements at all. The crowd of several hundred surrounding the pit hasn't left, in fact more are gathering.

作者:中国刘翔 回复日期:2007-3-22 21:50:55 
这个问题很好解决嘛。
钉子户的这个房子既然已经全世界闻名,这就是重庆的名胜了嘛。
开发商保留现场不变,收门票。
业主修个楼梯,继续营业。
重庆市以此为契机,拉动旅游业。
凡是参与和推动了这一历史事件的网友,享受五折优惠,可以去钉子户酒店消费。
多赢。

Chinese Liu Xiang, 21:50:55, March 22
This problem is easy enough to solve.
The nail house is already world-famous now, a key point of interest in Chongqing.
The developer should just leave the area as it is, and sell tickets.
The owners can put in some steps and keep doing business.
A chance for Chongqing to grab some of the tourist industry.
Everyone involved and all netizens recording this event can get fifty percent off any hotels in Chongqing.
Everyone wins.

作者:牛牛的好 回复日期:2007-3-22 22:15:45 
我在现场用手机上网,很慢,大家见凉!!
现在是最新的,趁着夜色,挖掘机,推土机,铲车已经开来了,法院的也来了

Good to be cool, 22:15:45, March 22
I'm at the scene using my cellphone to post, so slow, everyone forgive!!
The newest is that under the cover of dark backhoes, bulldozers and forklifts have moved in, and people from the courts are here too.

作者:lygmqh 回复日期:2007-3-22 23:55:25 
最新消息!现场有人向网友透露,今天不拆,明天十点开听证会!

lygmqh, 23:55:25, March 22
Latest news! Someone at the scene has just revealed that the demolition will not be happening today. Tomorrow morning at ten there will be a hearing!

作者: zlvsszl 回复日期:2007-3-23 00:23:57 
我刚从现场回来。
现场没想像中热闹。有200~300个重庆市民在附近的天桥、轻轨站台上支援老杨,离老杨坚守的堡垒大概有60~80米远!。。现场有个蔺姓的兄弟在组织大家吼老杨,雄起~~!老杨用电筒朝外面射了几下,以示回应!老杨是坚强的,老杨的稳重的!

对面楼上是各地的记者,他们给我们这边的其中一个人打了电话,叫大家继续吼,他们肯定拍下来了,明天,重庆人的声音~!雄起~这响亮的声音,将传到世界各地!我爱你们!重庆人民!中国人民!你们,当然,包括我!都是最棒的!

根据从下午就一直在现场的朋友反映,老杨几乎没有跟大家对过话!他肯定很累了!明天大家要想点实际行动来支持他!我们的英雄!

今晚肯定是拆不成了~ 我离开的时候大概是23:45,我建议大家尽量早点休息,也让老杨休息一下!明天他还要继续战斗!他是最勇敢的战士!

zlvsszl, 00:23:57, March 23
I just got back from the scene.
It's not as busy there as I'd imagined, about two-three hundred Chongqing residents standing nearby on the bridge, on the railway track, supporting old Yang, just sixty to eighty meters away from old Yang's fortress! Someone named Lin is down there organizing everyone to shout to old Yang, ‘be brave..!’ Old Yang flashed the flashlight over a few times in response! Old Yang is staying strong, keeping calm!

Across the way are journalists from all over the country. They phoned one of us over here and told us to keep shouting, they want to film it. Tomorrow, Chongqing's voice, ‘be brave’ resonating, throughout the world! We love you! Chongqing'ers! Chinese people! You, of course me too! We're the best!

Based on what friends were saying all afternoon, old Yang hasn't talked to anyone! He must be tired! Tomorrow everyone must think of some actions to support him! Our hero!

They definitely won't tear it down today. When I left it was about 23:45. I recommend everyone get to bed earlier, let old Yang get some rest! Tomorrow he will continue fighting! He's the bravest warrior!

Similar reports continue throughout the rest of the night, straight until 7:30 on the morning of March 23 when this post was finished. Here are some of the photos from Tianya:

Taitian, 23:32, March 21
nailhousereporters.jpg

今天云集了很多记者

Many reporters gathered today.
nailhousereporters PIC

Big, small and black, 11:01, March 22
yangbin.jpg

(房主老公照片)

(House owner Mr. Yang)

No money, no house, 14:34, March 22
nailhousefrombelow.jpg

房主的样子何其悲壮

The owner looks so solemn and tragic

Wanzhou skin-eating brutha, 15:13, March 22
outsidefence.jpg

现场已经正在封锁过程中,众多围观的普通市民都被大范围的栅栏隔离在施工范围之外

The area is now being shut off, the people crowding around to watch have been shut out by a construction fence.

Edible Mushroom, 15:33, March 22
spectators.jpg

围观的

The spectators

Edible Mushroom, 16:19, March 22
mashup.jpg

Give me back my money, 16:30, March 22
gascan.jpg

晚上做饭吃!

Need to make dinner tonight!

Big, small and black, 17:15, March 22
crane.jpg

Sprint600, 22:51, March 22
yangbincan.jpg

杨武说:谁靠近就砸死谁!

Yang Wu says, whoever comes near is gonna get their head smashed!

Spring600, 23:12, March 22
nailhouseatnight.jpg

夜幕下的孤岛

Lonely island at night

The First Pole, 00:13, March 23
freedom.jpg

……

Flying over the sea, 00:22, March 23
flagfly.jpg

红旗飘飘!散打王成维权壮士!

The red flag blows! Just try and hit the hero of rights defenders!

And from Cat898 user ‘Let Me Win’, comes this photo:
housefrontrights.jpg

“公民的合法的私有财产不受侵犯”!!!

“Citizens’ Legal Private Property Will Not Be Infringed Upon!!!”

17 comments

  • Nice work! I was reading through all those bbs’ myself. I hear that the developer agreed to give Mrs. Wuping a big apartment in the new complex, it was just on CCTV.

  • wow, John, your post is much more comprehensive than any other summaries I found on Chinese web sites.

  • bobby fletcher

    Land use rights cases have been making progress in China in recent years. Here are more home owners and land holders winning in the courts:

    – 124 families receives RMB$31,887,300 after litigation seeking compensation for lost land. They won an equivlant of class action.
    The Zhuhai court also extended claim period for two years, so more residents who lost their land can file claim under this ruling:

    http://www.9251.com/news/NewsShow.aspx?NewsID=1124161345486&ClassID=010202

    – 150 Chinese farmers sued the National Land Resource Bureau. After losing the initial petition, the farmers appealed their case, and won:

    http://news.xinhuanet.com/legal/2005-03/21/content_2722269.htm

    – 50 farmers sued the Shanhai Railway Bureau and won:

    http://www.chinacourt.org/public/detail.php?id=108019

  • l surport miss. Wu. althroug the developper agree to give this family a large mount of money,miss Wus dissatisfied with it.after this event,the china government will pay more attation to people’s property.

  • […] 好戲 最近在內地, ‘史上最強釘子戶‘在媒體鬧得熱哄哄。《物權法》的通過, 是否意味著私有產權就在中國特色社會主義的情況下能確立? 這單嘢, 又有幾多是媒體操作? […]

  • Venture160, you were onto this earlier than anyone else was. What’s the latest news from the nailhouse?

  • Well according to CDT there is a media blackout. Last I heard was that the developer agreed to give Mrs. Wuping a place in the new broadway development. But after a quick check of all the news outlets in China most are still reporting on the story… maybe the blackout was lifted…

  • http://www.zaobao.com/special/newspapers/2007/03/others070325a.html

    this has some new information.

  • […] The “nail house” blogged on Ugotrade on March 10th , and Boing Boing, March 12th, (hey I can’t resist pointing out again how I scooped Boing Boing on this one!), and many other English blogs after that. And, then Peering Into The Interior translated an interview with the owner. Now Global Voices Online points out, it is also picking up steam fast again on the Chinese BBS’s. “Smelling a story, journalists from all across the country rushed to the city [zh] to see what would happen when the owner, Wu Ping, ran out of time to evacuate her ‘nail house‘ at midnight on March 21. In the meantime, Wu set up her own blog and released this video.” Stumble it! […]

  • […] Meet Zola Zhou, independent citizen reporter, blogging live from the nailhouse. […]

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