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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Its tough in China

Some of us in or next to the hill suburbs, and in the Residential Red Zone, will not be glad to be leaving our properties. A few will decide to ignore the requirement to move, and wait it out. The time will come when there is an ultimatum: move immediately or be forcibly removed.

In China such situations are commonplace, and carried out with a lot less due process. The following article is from the Channel Newsasia website (here):
BEIJING: Demolition is said to be the leading cause of social conflicts and public discontent in China last year.
A Beijing-based social research centre said problems related to compensation and evictions are the most common.
49-year-old Lu Peixin, a long-time resident of Gejia village in the outskirts of Beijing, came home one day to find her house demolished.
Even though negotiations with the property developer on compensation had dragged on for years, she had not expected the sudden demolition of her home.
Lu said: "I'm the resident. This is my house. I live here. If you want to demolish, you have to discuss with me. The least you can do is to get my consent. You have to get in touch with me. But no one contacted me."
Lu's temporary shelter is a tent pitched next to her former home, where she hopes to salvage her valuables.
Another affected resident is Song Baoying, whose home was partly demolished.
She now lives in anxiety, wondering when the bulldozers might next show up at her doorstep.
The property developer firm involved in both of the demolitions refused to answer any calls from Channel NewsAsia, but analysts say disputes like these are not uncommon.
The disagreements often involve inadequate or below market-value compensation, or affected residents receiving only part of the promised compensation.
But what makes these cases especially tricky is the local government's involvement in the sale of land and their relationship with property developers.
Liu Wei, a lawyer, said: "It's hard when the cases are linked to the government's interest. Even though there're no hard and fast rules, demolition cases related to government's interests can seldom be resolved through China's legal system."
Another thorny issue is the arbitrary standards of compensation by property developers.
Lu said: "They use all kinds of tactics to get residents to sign and relocate - no questions asked. Some people get 6000, or 8000, 11000, up to 14000 (yuan per square metre). There might be 20 different prices for similar units in a neighbourhood. We ordinary people don't know what this is all about."
Happening across many parts of China, forced demolitions had often led to tragic and even devastating consequences. In Anhui province, for example, a resident whose house was forcibly demolished killed herself by swallowing arsenic, while elsewhere self-immolations had taken place."
Analysts said the process of demolition and relocation would be less problematic if information was made more transparent.
Affected residents should also be given the chance to participate in the process and negotiate for their rights in accordance with the law.
Otherwise, progress and development built on the broken tiles and dreams of the disgruntled will surely be a recipe for social discontent and even disaster.
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