Nail houses vs. demolition teams in China
The term “nail house” has been frequently used to refer to homes whose owners refuse to relocate and make room for development, for their homes jut out stubbornly like “nails” from the ground, where their neighboring structures are torn down or crushed unimpeded, and pulling out these “nails” seems like a mission impossible. Such homeowners were painted by either developers or the authorities as selfish, unruly and greedy for huge compensation. But with public awareness of the sanctity of private property growing, homeowners are increasingly proud of and assertive in using various means to oppose demolition teams who jerk them around and guard their property.
November 22, 2012, Wenling, Zhejiang. A house in the middle of the road made news headlines around the world. The owners, duck farmers Luo Baogen and his wife, refused to sign an agreement to allow their house to be demolished, as the local government was only willing to pay them 260,000 yuan (roughly US$42,000) as compensation, which the couple said is far from enough to cover the cost of building a house like this.
December 1, 2012, Wenling, Zhejiang. The nail house was finally reduced to rubble. The couple finally agreed to move, accepting the government’s compensation offer and a plot of ground for a new house. He did not specify what made him change his mind, although Xinhua quoted him as saying, “It was never a final solution for us to live in a lone house in the middle of the road. After the government’s explanations, I finally decided to move.”
Below is a photo series put together by NetEase.
March 23, 2007, female owner Wu Ping and her husband Yang Wu in front of the so-called “the most awesome nail house in Chinese history” (See first photo). The couple and their little nail house perched dangerously on top of a pile of dirt with excavation going on around them became a cause celebre and were celebrated as heroic defiance to the local government. Yang Wu, the husband, hung a banner on the roof of their house with the slogan: “Citizens’ legal and private properties should not be violated.” Wu Ping, the wife, said firmly in court, “We absolutely will not move. We will use our lives to guard our legal properties!” But in the end, they settled with the developer for an unknown amount of money.
October 31st, 2008 , 79-year-old Fan Guizhen and her son Wang Chuanhong in front of their two-story house within a park under construction in Nanjing. Up until then, they had been living in the same home for 55 years. Wang said that his expectations were not high, as long as his family of four can have a place “spacious enough to live. The Qinhuai District proposed a 55-square-meter housing unit (592 sq. ft.) as compensation, but all he and his mother asked for was only a 65-square-meter (699 sq. ft.) home.
(The red paint on the outside wall of the house reads, “Guard the Country’s Property Law with Blood and Life. Guard Article 238 with Blood and Life. Firmly Resist Brutal Demolition!!!”)
March 26, 2010 in Wuhai of Inner Mongolia, because the ‘nail house’ owner and the demolition team were unable to reach an agreement. As a result, the home owner hired a crane and placed a QQ car on the roof of the house.
June 6, 2010, Dongxi Lake, Hubei Province. In order to resist forced demolition, this farmer drew inspiration from the movie Avatar and built a battle tower on his farm, from which he successfully defended his home and repelled two demolition teams.
May 15, 2012, Kunming. Homeowner Zou Mingcan said he was pistol-whipped at the chin by the demolishers. In order to protect his home, he threw Molotov cocktails, bricks, or even ignited gas tanks from the roof top of the six-story building whenever a demolisher approached.
April 27, 2012. Economic Development Zone of Taizhou, Zhejiang province. The owner of the nail house installed a dozen surveillance cameras outside his house to keep thieves and demolishers at bay.
July 19, 2012, Jinan. The nail house was dubbed “the most creative one” by netizens. The owner of the small building stuck Chinese national flags all around it and hung eye-catching slogans on the front. The owner also set up a dummy on the roof of the house, which held a Chinese flag in one hand and a bullhorn in the other, from which the owner’s grievances could be heard.
November 12, 2008, Nanjing. Wang Fu Restaurant has been operating for the past 22 years. In order to avoid forced demolition , property owner Ye Bin installed garage doors, added iron bars to the windows, and blanketed the roof with nails.
At around 4 a.m. on December 13, 2011, in suburban Kunming, villagers Li Gang’s three-story house was forcibly torn down by an excavator. Li and his family placed barrels of gasoline and a gas tank on the said machine, claiming they would set the excavator on fire if no one stepped out to talk to him. Afterwards, the police arrived at the scene to mediate between the two parties.
December 16, 2010. A nail house on Shuguang West Road in Beijing’s Chaoyang District.
July 4, 2010, Lushun, Liaoning province. The surroundings of Yu Zhixu’s nail house had already been razed to the ground and turned into a construction site.
April 25, 2009, Guiyang, Guizhou province. A nail house stood in the way of a renovation and expansion project of Guiyang’s railway hub.
March 22, 2011. In the middle of a street in Shanghai’s Songjiang district, a few buildings have yet to be demolished.
December 23, 2010 , Jinhua, Zhejiang province. Yao Buqing, 57, and her nail house have been in the lasting battle with demolishers since five years ago.
October 28, 2010, Kunming, Yunnan province. Trenches were dug outside of Zhao Jin’s six-story house. After the rain, the house seemed to be surrounded by a ‘moat’.
December 2, 2011, Foshan, Guangdong Province. 16 villagers were unwilling to sign the demolition compensation agreement and inadvertently became nail households. Many of them were forced out of their homes by local townspeople.
November 28, 2007, Liede Village, Guangzhou, Guangdong province. A nail house continued to stand alone in the rubble. Liede village is located in the central zone of Guangzhou’s new district and was one of the very first villages inside the city of Guangzhou for redevelopment.
November 14, 2007, Changsha, Hunan Province. A nail house had been holding out there in front of a department store for three years.
March 13, 2007, Jingan District, Shanghai. A nail house was ready to give in.