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Constitution helps man fight for home
By Li Jing (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-04-06 00:32

At 63, Huang Zhenyun says the newly-passed amendment to the Constitution is the key to keeping his house from being torn down -- at least for a while.

Huang's house, which he inherited from his father, is in the Chongwen District where most of the dwellings are set to be demolished to make room for new high-rises.

Huang said he and his wife were not able to agree on resettlement compensation with a developer and refused to move out of their home.

Huang Zhenyun stands in front of his house holding his property ownership certificate. His wife holds a copy of the newly amended Chinese Constitution. [newsphoto]

Now, Huang carries a copy of the newly amended Constitution with him everywhere. The old man has underlined a couple of sentences: "Citizens' lawful private property is inviolable" and "The State respects and preserves human rights."

Those are the central words to the amendment passed by the country's top legislature on March 14.

Huang said he held up a copy of the document as he stood at the gate of his house on the early morning of April 1 as bulldozers arrived. That was to the deadline set by the district government for him to move out.

"Actually, we'd be glad to move into new apartment if the compensation they were offering was reasonable," Huang's wife -- Pang Wenyi, told China Daily Monday.

The redress, however, was just 5,950 yuan (US$719) per square metre. Huang and his wife argued that the redress was set for State-owned houses, and the compensation for their house should be higher because it is a privately owned property.

Meanwhile, the family argues that the yard at their house, covering an area of 10 square metres, should also be included in the compensation.

But the developer would only pay redress for the sole room, which is around 20 square metres.

The Huashi area in Chongwen District stands against the backdrop of highrise apartment buildings after most of the houses were torn down. [newsphoto]
"Thus we can only get 120,000 yuan (US$14,500). How can we buy a new apartment with such a little money," said Pang in tears, adding that her family maintains a living on government subsidies and has little in the way of savings.

Huang said the land resources and housing management authority in the district issued a ruling on the dispute in February. It urged Huang to accept the compensation and move out soon.

And the district government also issued a notice to Huang on March 29 that his house would be forcibly torn down on April 1.

"We can only resist the bulldozers for a while. My husband and I are on pins and needles these days and even lay awake some nights," said Pang. "I hope the government can work out a reasonable solution to the dispute in accordance with law."

Chongwen District officials say they are continuing to try to negotiate and end the dispute.

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