Clashes over land roil China’s poor – Robert Marquand
From the Christian Science Monitor (link):
Ni Youlian is the “Last Mohican” in a downtown neighborhood that used to have 4,000 families. He’s glad that President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao have taken up the cause of ordinary people in their speeches this week at China’s annual National People’s Congress. But like so many urban and city folk who lost farmland or houses to China’s epic redevelopment, he doesn’t see an end to the lucrative collusion between officials and developers that has created so many millionaires – but has also contributed to so much suspicion and instances of instability. China recorded 87,000 riots or protests last year.
Ni’s courtyard house, officially “protected” for years, was bulldozed in 2003 to make way for skyscrapers. It is a familiar story in Beijing – except Ni refused a cheap buy-off. His life savings were in the house. He withstood beatings by thugs that caused most of his neighbors to leave. He now lives in a plywood shack, and expects the bulldozer any day. But he won’t leave.
See also “Letter from China: A countryside jaunt to the reality of China” from the International Herald Tribune, via Howard French’s A Glimpse of the World blog, and “China’s poor pose threat to wealthy future” from the BBC.