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Demolish it

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拆哪 (Chāi nǎ) Demolish it

Chāi nǎ mimics the sound of the English word “China.” “Demolish” (拆 chāi) has a special meaning in contemporary China, as demolitions, often forced on tenants with little or no compensation, are one of the major sources of social instability. Developers and the local government profit greatly from forcibly evicting people from their homes to build on the land. Anger over forced demolition lead the people of Wukan, Guangdong to fight the local government, eventually laying siege to their village in December 2011.

哪 nǎ means “where” or “which.” Hence, Chāi nǎ also sounds like the question “Where/which should be demolished?” and mocks the ubiquity of demolition.

All over China, 拆 is spray-painted on the sides of buildings slated for demolition. People who have had their homes demolished are called 拆迁户 chāiqiānhù.

Linguist Victor Mair has a collection of nicknames for China, including chāi nǎ, on his Language Log blog.

Bulldozer with the character “demolish” written on it depicted as the extension of the bureaucratic arm.
The “God of Wealth” is the head of demolitions, wearing a robe emblazoned with the character “corrupt.” He is awarding a contract to a developer in exchange for a gold ingot.
This man’s salary lays atop a large “demolish” character.

Twelve Petitioners Attempt Suicide in Beijing

17 July 2014, by Samuel Wade

Officials: Church Demolition Not Attack on Christianity

28 April 2014, by Cindy

Official Puts Demolition Workers On Pedestal

17 April 2014, by Natalie Ornell

Shanghai’s Older Generation Hark Back to Mao

16 April 2014, by josh rudolph

The Tales of Two Temples

11 December 2013, by Samuel Wade

Petitioners Drink Pesticide to Protest Demolition of Homes

11 December 2013, by Sophie Beach

Censorship Vault: Reporter Beaten for Investigating Hunan Nail House

15 November 2013, by Anne Henochowicz

New China Cities: Shoddy Homes, Broken Hope

11 November 2013, by Sophie Beach

Drawing the News: Strange Creatures from Cathay

25 October 2013, by Anne Henochowicz

The Anatomy of a Shanghai Land Grab

16 October 2013, by Sophie Beach

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