Sindicator, Ep.04: Chai-Na, Development By Destruction

Sindicator - Chai-na
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: The Poverty Of Modern China

Changsha nail house 1
"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.

Tree 1, Crane 0

Tree topples crane
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.

Sichuan Officials Give Existential Response To Question On Land Use Right

Liangzhou land use right 40 years of 70 years?
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.

Chinese Embassy In Washington DC Tagged “Chai” – Demolish – At Outset Of Sino-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue

Chinese embassy in DC vandalized chai
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.

The Weird Demolition Of A 27-Meter-Tall, Two-Year-Old Statue Resembling Sun Yat-sen’s Wife

Soong Ching Ling statue
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.

Officials Send Thugs To Violently Harass Tenants In Land Dispute

Tianmen land dispute fight featured image
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: “Even If They Have Real Documents, It Doesn’t Mean They Were Processed Legally”

Papers mean nothing to chengguan and chai
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 »

Here’s The Moment A Hired Thug Slugged An Already Bloody Petitioner

Chai-qian petitioner slugged
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, Even Gingerbread Houses Can’t Escape Chai-Qian

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 »

The End Of The “Nail Grave”: Taiyuan Tomb Scheduled For Removal [UPDATE: 800 Yuan Given In Compensation]

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 »

They’re Still Talking About Demolishing Swathes Of The Drum And Bell Neighborhood

Beijing Drum and Bell
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 »

Nail Houses In Context: See Them In Their Surroundings Via Google Earth

Changsha 2008
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 »

That Awesome Nail House In The Middle Of The Highway Has Been Demolished [UPDATE]

Nail house demolished 2
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 »

“Most Awesome Nail House” Stands In Middle Of Highway, Really Is Awesome

Wenlin house
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 »

Watch: 107-Meter-Tall Landmark Buildings Implode In Chongqing

107-Meter-Tall Landmark Buildings Implode In Chongqing featured image
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.

Upheaval Over Land Dispute In Guangdong

Guangdong upheaval 2
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 »