“Unable to stop land grab, Chinese farmer set self afire”

Anyone looking to understand why Jiangxi Bomber Qian Mingqi took such an extreme course of action should read this article from McClatchy, revealing exactly what you’re up against when your property is demolished here:

The central government and the ruling Communist Party gave notice in March that rural officials should follow the “spirit” of regulations issued in January for urban property that require due process and fair payment for forced demolitions. The measure also specifically forbade the use of violence or coercion.

None of which helped Wang Jiazheng as he stood on his roof at about 8:30 a.m. April 22.

Wang had discovered that his village leader, a man named Guo Jianguang, had secretly signed over the community’s land and also allegedly waived the right to public hearings.

Asked by phone whether he had, in fact, agreed to hand over village land without talking with others, Guo replied, “Yes, that is true,” and then said in a loud voice that he didn’t have time to talk and hung up.

The government planned to compensate Wang for about 3,000 square feet of housing. The 350,000 yuan payment, worth roughly $53,800, was more than enough to pay for the 2,600-square foot apartment the government wanted Wang to move into. Wang would have been left with 210,000 yuan, some $32,300, a significant sum in rural China, where the annual net income is about $1,000.

But from Wang’s perspective, he’d been cheated. His family’s two homes covered nearly 6,500 square feet, so he was ending up with less than half the compensation he thought he deserved and getting stuck with a smaller home.

Added to that, the development had scooped up all the farmland he’d tended. He worried that neither he nor his family would have a way to make a living in the future.

Wang complained first to local officials, then went to Beijing in 2009 to petition for an investigation of the case, all to no avail.

This is something that even apolitical Chinese are aware of, and are none too happy about.  The primary purpose of courts here is to shield the Party from legal challenges, so…  I guess the system works?


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Filed under China, Communist Party, courts, housing demolition

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