In Guangzhou’s Yuexiu district lie the remains of what Chinese people colloquially call “villages within a city” – clusters of decrepit old housing bordered by colorful office buildings and towering housing complexes. While the land under these towns is wholly government-owned, residents must sign contracts to give their homes over for demolition and receive compensation.On September 6, a standoff with police ensued at the top of a building in the urban “village” of Yangji, when a husband and wife refused to comply with a court ruling forcing them to relocate. The husband stood at the top of his home, threatening to immolate himself with gasoline, as demolition crews waited nearby to receive the go-ahead to tear down his home. Finally, the head of the Yuexiu courthouse and a representative from the company in charge of the area’s renovation entered the building to speak with the couple, convincing them to leave the building after re-negotiating the terms of their forced removal.
Global Post reports that Premier Wen Jiabao spoke out against rampant property destruction and redevelopment in China today:
“No one is paying attention to the legal rights of farmers in some places, and they are forcefully destroying homes and moving them out,” Wen said, according to a translation from AFP of the Beijing News report on a meeting in Beijing to discuss preservation of historic and cultural relics. “We are destroying the real and building up the fake.”