Forced Evictions and Nail Houses

The urge for progress and economic growth by the Chinese Communist Party has led to rapid urbanization all over the county. Local governments were encouraged to borrow large sums from state banks to finance stimulus projects in order to re-develop land for new roads, factories or residential complexes. Nowadays, influenced by the global economic crisis, these governments  strongly rely on the sale of land to repay the huge sums they borrowed before, and noting seems to go too far to force people out of their homes or sell their rights to land-use.

A recently published report by Amnesty international highlights how forced evictions have increased significantly in the past two years in order to clear the way for new developments. Violence, intimidation and imprisonment are being used to make people leave and legal protection is often poorly managed. Sometimes, however, citizens manage to prevent demolition of their home while the surrounding neighborhood is torn down.

These isolated structures–in Chinese dubbed as dingzihu, or “nail house” – became symbols of resistance of a fight between Chinese homeowners and local officials accused of offering too little compensation to vacate neighborhoods for major redevelopment projects. One of the most striking examples is probably the case of an elderly couple in Wenling, Zhejiang province, which refused to sign an agreement to allow their home to be demolished, resulting in the authorities building a planned road around the building.

On the first of December 2012, it became clear that the couple accepted a somewhat larger offer of compensation (260,000 yuan = $41,000),  and the house was bulldozed right away.