Chairman Mao once said, "Without destruction there is not construction. The destruction is the criticism, the revolution. The destruction comes first, it of course brings the construction.” In recent years this quote has been taken literally, and the character 拆 (chāi), which means to "tear down," adorns the entrances of many-a-doomed domiciles. The phenomenon has evolved so that the Chinese have nicknamed their country 拆那 (chāinà - get it?), referring to the daily razings that make way for growth.
"Nail house" refers to the homes of owners too stubborn to give in to developers. These people stand alone, with their house, while their neighbors depart, and their neighborhood crumbles, and a new world stamps the words BEYOND HELP onto their heads. Often, that stamp looks like this: 拆. Sometimes, it looks like the above: walls leaning against one another to keep from falling; a roof halfway torn off by a force of mankind. Here it is: the poverty of living in modern China.
A 700-year-old tree in Shifang, Sichuan province withstood the efforts of a crane trying to secretly knock it down. Check it out. That's what happens when an immovable object is actually immovable: 30 meters tall, 2.4 meters in diameter, apparently.
So, who wants to be a chengguan?
chinaSMACK reports via Beijing Times that 19 chengguan in Xiamen, Fujian province were victims of a sulfuric acid attack on October 16, with 18 of them needing hospital treatment.
While the central government technically owns all land in China, it's standard practice to issue long-term leases of up to 70 years to would-be residential property owners. Certain restrictions apply, but land grant contracts are usually 70 years, and that's that.
One particular land and resources bureau, however, apparently missed that memo about "70 years." Either that or it felt properly high and mighty as to openly flaunt a purposefully wrong interpretation of Chinese property law.
The character for demolish (or dismantle) -- 拆, chai -- appeared on the Chinese embassy in Washington DC on Wednesday morning. According to Voice of America, the characters appeared three times: on two of the pillars on the embassy's front gate, and on the entrance of an office building.
This happened on the same day as the opening of the fifth annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue, a two-day session between top leaders of China and the US.
An incomplete statue of Soong Ching Ling, a.k.a. Madame Sun Yat-sen, which appeared in November 2011 in Zhengzhou, Henan province, was "quietly removed" recently, state media reported on July 4. How does one quietly remove an eight-story statue from a downtown area? Perhaps one should ask how one quietly commissions the building of an eight-story statue in the first place.
When you live on government land, what's yours isn't really, since it can be taken away in a whim. Of course, all land in China technically belongs to the government, so no one, in effect, can claim for him or herself that most basic of Maslow's needs, shelter. Which is perhaps why the issue of demolition in China is such a tinderbox, ready to explode with cries about fairness, justice, and -- forbid -- a government's scope of power.
Chengguan are not technically police officers, but out in the streets, their word is law. Today, we got a sobering reminder of that in Beijing. As reported by That’s Beijing, “around 30 to 50 chengguan, along with 20 xieguan officers (‘associate management,’ a force subordinate to chengguan – essentially, hired muscle) blocked off Xuezuo Hutong behind Zhangzizhonglu subway station, allowing... Read more »
Found on Sina Weibo, the above picture supposedly depicts a thug beating a petitioner in broad daylight on the streets of Xi’an in Shaanxi province. The man on the left is a goon allegedly hired by a demolish-and-relocate (chai-qian) gang, perhaps a real estate company or a local official. (Think the government wouldn’t get involved?... Read more »
In China, a country constantly in flux, demolition is a fact of fact. Developers and local officials are continually seeking the next fertile ground to seed their latest urban project, often an office building, mall, or condo. It has become all too easy for those of us without vested interests to ignore the buildings that... Read more »
China’s most eye-catching tomb is finally scheduled for removal. First reported in Western media on December 6 by NBC News’s Photo Blog — which sadly didn’t use the term “nail grave,” so now it doesn’t show up on the first page of Google search results — the tomb in Taiyuan, Shanxi province belonged to a... Read more »
For the last three or more years, rumor’s swirled over “restoration” plans in the Drum and Bell (Gulou) neighborhood to create a large plaza or “Time Cultural City.” It looks like the local government and developers are finally going forward with it. Here’s AFP’s latest report on the subject, which actually gives a date: Notices... Read more »
Changsha 2008 Ogle Earth has provided us a unique chronology of some of China’s more famous nail houses, and presented them “in geospatial context.” Writes Stefan Geens: Every so often, the master plans of developers don’t align with those of an existing home owner. The negotiations, coaxing and intimidation that follow can reach absurd levels,... Read more »
Show’s over, folks. The “Most Awesome Nail House” in Wenlin, Zhejiang province — a three-story residence standing in the middle of a highway near a railway station — has been demolished after the owner, 67-year-old Luo Baogen, signed an agreement with property developers. “Well, I am willing to relocate,” Luo said. The terms of the relocation agreement haven’t... Read more »
The owner of a house near a railway station in Taizhou, Wenlin, Zhejiang province is refusing to vacate his home because it’s his and fuck roads. Luo Baogen, 67, and his 65-year-old wife rejected an offer of 260,000 yuan plus two small building sites, claiming it wasn’t enough compensation. The story has spread on Sina... Read more »
We know that some cops carry firearms in China — certainly the special-duty officers, and security personnel in highly sensitive areas — but it’s rare enough that I’ve never actually seen an officer holding a gun in all my years here. So you can imagine my surprise upon hearing this story, headlined, “Villager shot dead... Read more »
Two landmark buildings in Chongqing Municipality's Chaotianmen are no more. On Thursday, a pair of 107.2-meter (352 feet) skyscrapers -- the Three Gorges Hotel and a passenger port -- became the highest in China to go kablooey. These 32-story structures released 63,000 cubic meters of debris in front of hundreds (thousands?) of eager onlookers.
China Digital Times curates a news story from Caijing reporting that yesterday before dawn, thousands of residents clashed with hundreds of riot police in Zuotan, part of the city of Foshan, Guangdong province. According to Caijing: “Zuotan officials secretly arranged for the sale of land in three neighborhoods to developers. The officials thought they could claim... Read more »