Forcible Demolition in Beijing

Chinese authorities attempt to tear down the ancestral home of a widow.

2012.03.19
china-evictions-beijing-305.jpg Residents scuffle with police over a land dispute in Beijing, May 31, 2010.
AFP

Authorities in China’s capital targeted an elderly widow for eviction Monday, ignoring a district court order that ruled the demolition of her ancestral home illegal, according to her and her son.

Li Xiyun, a resident of Beijing’s eastern Dongcheng district said that 20 employees from the local eviction and relocation office stormed her property despite her claims that a local court had ruled against the demolition of her home.

“Today about 20 people suddenly rushed into my house by jumping over the wall into the yard, because they have already blocked my entrance with piles of sand, cement, and bricks,” Li said.

“They are from the local eviction and relocation office, requesting again for me to move out. But I told them that the court had previously made a judgment on my property that the demolition of my home is illegal,” she said.

The most recent attempt to demolish Li’s home was announced on March 16, when a company by the name Beijing Weidu Demolition Service posted a notice of intent on her property.

Li’s son Liu Yunge said the demolition crew willingly left when they saw reporters at the scene.

“When the demolition guys came over this morning, a TV reporter and a camera crew had showed up to report on this. Thus the demolition didn’t continue,” he said.

“The police came too, but only after the demolition group left. They always act like this.”

Ten-year struggle

The Lius’ struggle to keep their ancestral home has been reported on by several Chinese and foreign media outlets, but authorities have continued to target their property for development.

Li’s husband, Liu Fengchi, had inherited the property, which contained a total of 138 structures.

But in 2002, local authorities began to demand that Liu move out in the name of urban development. He refused.

In 2007, a number of the structures were forcibly demolished by a group of unidentified men. Liu died not long after, at the age of 79.

Authorities are now targeting the remaining several structures on the property.

Li Xiuyun said that after 10 years of intimidation, she will not give up what she has left.

“We have never negotiated terms of demolition with them, nor have we signed any agreement,” Li said.

“In 2003 a district court ruled that the demolition decision must be revoked, and that any demolition is illegal,” she said.

“But in 2007 another demolition occurred, during which seven structures were leveled. I was pushed down on the ground in the yard.”

Private property enjoys theoretical protection under China's Constitution, but ownership of land in China ultimately rests with the state.

Residents often complain that existing leasehold contracts are flouted by local officials and developers keen to swell revenue coffers with lucrative land deals.

China already sees thousands of "mass incidents" across the country every year, according to official statistics, many of which are protests or sit-ins linked to forced evictions, allegations of corruption, and disputes over rural land sales.

Reported by Qiao Long for RFA’s Mandarin service. Translated by Ping Chen.

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