Friday, March 30, 2007

Showdown for property rights at a Chongqing nailhouse



Wu Ping and Yang Wu own a restaurant, which is also their home, in Chongqing. A development company, Chongqing Zhengsheng Real Estate, backed by the government, wants to put an apartment and shopping complex on the same spot. Ms. Wu and her family refuse to move, even as the development firm excavate all the land around them. The building is now what the Chinese call a "nailhouse" (dingzihu, 钉子户), a house that sticks out in resistance to development.



(Picture from Virtual China)

The story, along with its dramatic photos has been running wild in the Chinese blogosphere, and has now broken into the English language mainstream press, with articles at CNN ,and Time,and Annanova.

The battle started in 2004. Reports about the negotiation are conflicting. CNN says the couple was offered 20 million yuan ($2.6 million) or two higher floors in the new building, but are holding out for space on the ground floor of the new building, where their restaurant will presumably get foot traffic. Time, on the other hand, says the couple are holding out for 2.5 million dollars. (Then again, Time also says that Chongqing is a part of Sichuan province.) Ananova says the householders are demanding 20 million yuan. The blog Peering into the Interior says they are holding out for space in the new building, and have only been offered a small sum of money. There is also disagreement about whether the woman taking a stand should be called Ms. Wu or Ms. Wuping.



The important thing about this case though, is that it is a high profile test of China's evolving property laws. The right to private property was written into the Chinese constitution in 2003, and in October of this year, a law allowing the sale and transfer of land is supposed to go into effect. The situation remains vague, however, because the constitution still asserts that the state owns all the land.


(Picture from Peering into the Interior)

In an effort to acquaint myself with the English-language Chinese blogosphere, I'm posting some links to this story as it appears in other blogs. I'll also update the China resource box on the right to include blogs.

Peering into the Interior has a translation of an interview with Ms.Wu along with video links.

Danwei has an overview of the internet conversation with links.

Virtual China has also been blogging this.

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