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.
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:
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:
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Owner Wu Ping accepting interviews from media
And a few more from Yi Wen at 21:38:12, March 22:
作者：射日一号 回复日期：2007-3-22 21:50:27
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
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.
作者：牛牛的好 回复日期：2007-3-22 22:15:45
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
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
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
Big, small and black, 11:01, March 22
No money, no house, 14:34, March 22
Wanzhou skin-eating brutha, 15:13, March 22
Edible Mushroom, 15:33, March 22
Edible Mushroom, 16:19, March 22
Give me back my money, 16:30, March 22
Big, small and black, 17:15, March 22
Sprint600, 22:51, March 22
Spring600, 23:12, March 22
The First Pole, 00:13, March 23
Flying over the sea, 00:22, March 23
And from Cat898 user ‘Let Me Win’, comes this photo: