Shandong officials demolish part of provincial soccer player's home amid scuffles

Midfielder Lü Yatong posts video of an altercation as officials start dragging family members out of their home
By Gao Feng for RFA Mandarin
2023.02.13
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Shandong officials demolish part of provincial soccer player's home amid scuffles At left, Chinese officials arrive at the home of Lü Yatong in Yantai city to carry out the demolition of parts of the house. At right, a Chinese official tries to drag away a family member of Lü Yatong, a midfielder with the women's soccer team Shandong Sports Lottery, on Friday, Feb. 10, 2023.
Credit: Screenshots from video provided by Lu Yatong

Authorities in the eastern Chinese province of Shandong have partially demolished the home of a member of a provincial soccer team amid clashes between her relatives and officials that left several people injured, she reported via social media.

Officials accompanied a demolition gang to the home of Lü Yatong, a midfielder with the provincial-level women's football team Shandong Sports Lottery, in Yantai city on Feb. 10, according to a video clip posted by Lü.

The demolition came after officials in Lü's home district of Laishan warned the family that only around 10% of the property they had built on the land was legal.

"You need to show some documentation!" shouts a member of Lü's family at a group of officials in the clip. "As ordinary citizens, we have the right to oversee the way you enforce the law."

"Don't think that we don't understand the law!" the man shouts. "You think you can just ... snatch our cell phones and beat us up."

"We want the police to come," says a woman, with her demands echoed by the other family members. "This area here is all our home; why have you come inside?"

"We have an official contract [for this land]," the man shouts. "What do you think you're doing?"

"Don't come out," an official tells them, as a cordon ribbon is extended across the entrance of their home. "Don't come outside for your own safety."

The officials then start grabbing the women amid screams, as the man shouts: "What are you doing?" before the camera suddenly tumbles and falls and the clip ends.

Lü Yatong, a member of the Shandong women's soccer team, condemned the demolition by Chinese authorities on Friday, Feb. 10, 2023 in Yantai city. Credit: Provided by Lu Yatong
Lü Yatong, a member of the Shandong women's soccer team, condemned the demolition by Chinese authorities on Friday, Feb. 10, 2023 in Yantai city. Credit: Provided by Lu Yatong

Following scuffles with family members who tried to resist being taken away, the authorities proceeded to demolish a large section of the property and an adjacent smallholding belonging to her father, Lü later told Radio Free Asia.

"There were at least 200 people [who came to demolish the house], as shown in the video," Lü said in an interview on Monday. "They tried to break into our house, but we resisted and didn't let them."

"Then they came in and dragged everyone in our house away, just lifted them up, six people to lift a single person," she said. 

She said the family had received a notice of demolition before Lunar New Year, and had lodged an official administrative appeal, but that the authorities had moved ahead with the demolition before an appeal judgment had been issued.

"They dispatched two large excavators ... and destroyed all of the fruit trees during the process," she said. "All of the livestock have nowhere to live and they demolished the toilets and cut off the water, so it's impossible to live here normally."

"Even if our home was illegal, we engaged with them and applied for reconsideration," Lü said. "They weren't supposed to carry out demolition work during the 60-day review period."

She said much of the land spoiled by the demolition gang was in her father's name, rather than her grandfather, who owned the land the property was built on, but the officials had lumped the two properties together.

Local authorities often carry out violent forced evictions and demolitions, often with no warning or due process, in order to reclaim land for lucrative redevelopment or speculation, victims have been reporting for decades.

Shandong Sports Lottery, the side Lü plays for regularly, ranked 5th out of 10 teams in the Chinese Women's Superleague as of November 2022.

Translated by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Malcolm Foster

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