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.


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:


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:


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.


Us poor civilians


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?!


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


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


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
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

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

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

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

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 

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 

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 

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

Owner Wu Ping accepting interviews from media

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


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.






作者:射日一号 回复日期:2007-3-22 21:50:27 

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 

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 

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 

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 



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


Many reporters gathered today.
nailhousereporters PIC

Big, small and black, 11:01, March 22


(House owner Mr. Yang)

No money, no house, 14:34, March 22


The owner looks so solemn and tragic

Wanzhou skin-eating brutha, 15:13, March 22


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


The spectators

Edible Mushroom, 16:19, March 22

Give me back my money, 16:30, March 22


Need to make dinner tonight!

Big, small and black, 17:15, March 22

Sprint600, 22:51, March 22


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

Spring600, 23:12, March 22


Lonely island at night

The First Pole, 00:13, March 23


Flying over the sea, 00:22, March 23


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

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


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


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