Concern grows after forced evictions
Three residents were arrested in Hunan Province after they refused to move out of their homes to make room for a new department store.
The three people were arrested on Friday in Jiahe County, Central China's Hunan Province. Police said the charges included using violence to resist law enforcement and interfering in public affairs, the Beijing News reported.
Meanwhile, at least seven government staff were removed from their posts after failing to convince the family members to move out according to an arrangement of the county government.
The media was quick to react, saying the forced evictions were not only a misuse of the county's administrative power but also against the Constitution.
The possibility of illegal deals was also raised in editorial comments that pointed out the land was sold for only 1.3 per cent of the market price.
In response, provincial authorities sent an investigation team to Jiahe County.
In a report last week, Jiahe County sources said the deal to build the Zhuquan Department Store is a project that will serve local people and the long-term development of the county.
County head Li Shidong, said the relocations will not stop.
An official with the press office of the county government, who declined to be identified, said the three residents were arrested because they refused to move out even after receiving compensation from the real estate developer.
"It is already a big amount that Li Huiming, one of the three people arrested, will receive for compensation: More than 200,000 yuan (US$24,200)," the press officer said Monday.
He declined to reveal the compensation standards for relocated people.
Li owns a five-storey building in downtown areas of the county.
Annual rent from the ground floor is 10,000 yuan (US$1,200), Li's agent Guo Ting'an, told the Beijing News, adding the compensation is far from enough.
Another resident Li Yongquan, who was offered compensation of less than 500 yuan (US$60) per square metre, said the price may match that of homes in the remote areas of the county but not those of central locations where his house is located.
By comparison, the Beijing News reported, the price per square metre for the planned department store is 16,000 yuan (US$1,900) a year according to an advertisement.
Among the 372 households that are to be moved for the first phase of construction for the new mall, more than 60 have not signed deals with the real estate developer since last July.
According to the original plan, a total of 1,100 households will have to be relocated for construction of the mall.