The Long Road To Justice
From The Hindu:
It all began, as so many stories do, with a knock on the door. On the morning of August 4, 1998, Ma Yalian found three officials from a local real estate firm outside her Shanghai home. Demolition papers in hand, they uttered the words Chinese home-owners dread to hear: her three-story family home in downtown Shanghai was to be torn down to make way for an urban redevelopment project. Then came the second blow. She would be relocated to a cramped, dingy apartment in Shanghai’s outskirts, and given little compensation. “Fight the order at your own risk,” the men warned.
In many ways, Ma Yalian’s story is hardly unusual. Every year, tens of thousands of Chinese lose their homes to influential real estate companies. Evicted residents are routinely forced out of their houses with little or no compensation, and often have little recourse to justice. Every year, there are an estimated 90,000 “mass incidents” — officialspeak for protests — reported across China. The majority of them involve land rights issues. Most residents have to quietly accept their fate, intimidated by the influential real estate mafia and befuddled by opaque laws.