List of forced demolition cases grows longer

08:12, November 02, 2010      

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China's list of violent and bloody home demolitions gained two new entries on Saturday, as a man set himself on fire in protest in Northeast China and another man in North China was beaten to death after he refused to move out.

Cui Dexi, a 56-year-old man from Mishan city of Heilongjiang province, set himself alight on Saturday morning during a conflict with about 100 local officials, policemen and housing developers who wanted to demolish Cui's house for a real estate project.

Cui was not sent to hospital for more than one hour after he set himself on fire, his family said, adding that he might lose the use of both hands.

Cui's son-in-law, Hou Jinlong, said more than 100 people, most not in uniform, burst into their house on Saturday morning as ambulances and fire engines waited outside.

"It was about 7 am, we found the house was filled with people. They even set a police cordon around the nine houses not demolished yet in the neighborhood," Hou told China Daily on Monday over the phone. "They came to demolish the house."

However, the local city government said the people went to negotiate with the Cui family, not to demolish the house. The government said nine households have refused to move out because they are not satisfied with the compensation deal, which for Cui's family is 600,000 yuan ($89,800).

A publicity official surnamed Chen told China Daily that the area where Cui lives is mostly old houses and in 2008 the local government invited about 15 real estate developers to rebuild the area. The nine families who have refused to leave, out of 45 households in the community, want more compensation than offered.

Chen said so many people went there because "we didn't want them to overreact".

"We were negotiating, when Cui suddenly set himself on fire on the roof," he said.

Hou, however, said no government officials had ever talked to them about a compensation deal or a real estate plan. "That morning they wanted to demolish the house before they paid us."

A similar case happened the same day in Shanxi province, where a man was beaten to death and another seriously injured by about 10 attackers who demolished their homes, according to local police.

At about 2 am on Saturday, Meng Fugui and Wu Wenyuan, neighbors of Guzhai village of the provincial capital, Taiyuan, were sleeping in Wu's house when more than 10 people broke in.

The group beat them, left them in the street, and later demolished their homes. Meng died in the attack, and Wu was later sent to hospital.

The local government announced on Sunday that it was a case of violent demolition.

"We're investigating the case now. We already know six suspects involved in the attack, and the police have five," said an official surnamed Yang from the government of Jinyuan district, where the village is located. Yang refused to name or give the identity of the five detained suspects.

Wu said he and some other villagers were not satisfied with the compensation offered so they refused to move out.

Taiyuan plans to extend a main road in the city and those villagers' homes are in the way.

China's current regulation on demolition allows governments to seize people's houses for public projects. The government and real estate developers usually hire professional demolition companies to negotiate with people or even force people to move.

A series of bloody cases of demolition have led people to question the legitimacy of the regulation, and legal experts have been asking lawmakers to revise the current regulation.

However, faced with pressure from local governments that make profits from selling land, the adoption of the revised regulation has been delayed since January.

"China's urban development should stop using demolition as its engine," Yu Jianrong, a professor with the Rural Development Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said on Monday on his micro blog at sina.com, one of the most popular online portals in China.

"Development should never be achieved at the price of people's basic rights," he said. "Even demolition for public interests should be handled through legal procedures."

Qiu Bo contributed to this story.

By Wang Jingqiong, China Daily

(Editor:梁军)

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