'We're not going anywhere'

By Huang Zhiling (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-03-31 07:46
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Despite offers of compensation and a new eviction deadline the defiant owners of the reputed "nail-house" in Chongqing still refuse to budge.

On Friday, the couple, Yang Wu and Wu Ping had ignored the final March 29 deadline, and their house remains the only one standing in a massive 10-metre-deep construction pit.

For more than two years, Yang, 51, and Wu, 49, have resisted attempts by real estate developers to take control of their patch, even though all 280 of their neighbors have moved out.

A court initially gave the couple until March 23 to vacate the property, but was later extended to Thursday this week.

Photos of the solitary building have made headlines around the world, and on the Internet has been called the "coolest nail household in history", a Chinese metaphor for a person who refuses to move from their home.

The couple refused to accept the 3.5 million yuan ($454,545) compensation offered by the developers, who said the couple demanded nearly 5.5 million yuan ($714,286).

On March 26 the city sent a stern warning to the stubborn pair.

"The government would certainly protect the interests of the families to be removed, but that didn't mean the government would compromise on those nail houses unconditionally," the warning said.

In September 2004, the couple received a notice ordering them to vacate within a month to make way for the company to build a shopping mall and apartment block in the dilapidated food street where their house is located.

The company then set up an office to coordinate the compensation process.

"It went on pretty smoothly. Except the Yang Wu family, all the other residents moved out," Wang Wei, an official with the company, said.

"We have made at least 40 contacts with him in the past two years or so, but never came up with a solution."

The couple wanted a property of the same value, because the compensation money would not cover the cost of an apartment of the same size in that location.

After negotiations between the couple and the company reached a stalemate, the matter was taken to court in January.

The Jiulongpo District Court ordered the couple to move out by last Thursday and then this Thursday.

On behalf of the municipal government, Chongqing Mayor Wang Hongju said on Monday that his government had the ability to settle the issue properly, but it would not accept unreasonable high compensation prices proposed by "nail households".

He said it was unfortunate the legal process had drawn the issue out over such a long time.

A defiant Wu said she was unhappy about having her house referred to as a "nail household," adding she had sought dialogue with the mayor but had not got a reply.

Though the newly passed Property Law is yet to become effective, the "nail house" has been widely considered the first test case.

(China Daily 03/31/2007 page3)