Defiant couple stave off wrecking ball

By Xin Dingding (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-03-24 08:31

A couple in Chongqing Municipality, in defiance of a court order, are refusing to move out of their two-storey home, which is now the only building left standing atop a mound in a 10-meter-deep construction pit.

A Chinese national flag is raised atop a house, standing in the centre of a ten-metre-deep pit dug by the real estate developter, in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, on March 21, a day before the deadline for the owner to move out sentenced by local court. [newsphoto]

A photo of the solitary building has been circulating on the Internet, where it has been dubbed "the coolest nail house in history" a translation of a Chinese metaphor for a person who refuses to move from their home.

A local court set a deadline of Thursday for the couple to move out. But the house remained intact on Friday afternoon.

The owner of the house, Yang Wu, 51, used two steel pipes to climb up to his castle from the construction pit on Wednesday afternoon something most people would have found difficult, but an easy maneuver for the former martial arts champion.

He carried a national flag and banner reading "No violation of legitimate private property", which he hung from the top of the house.

Local residents look at a two-storey home, which is now the only building left standing atop a mound in a 10-meter-deep construction pit in Chongqing March 22, 2007. [newsphoto]

With his relatives' help, he also took two gas bottles, mineral water and other necessities. Water and electricity supplies were cut off long ago.

Yang's wife, Wu Ping, remained outside the house, answering questions from the media. She said they had not lived in the house for two and a half years.

The building, formerly a restaurant with a floor space of 219 square meters, is located in Jiulongpo District. The local government plans to build a shopping mall and apartments on the site.

More than 200 households were moved from the area in the past three years to make way for the development. But the couple refused to move because they were not satisfied with the compensation offered: 3.5 million yuan ($453,000).

Wu said they 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 local government reached a stalemate, the government took the matter to court in January.

On Monday, the Jiulongpo District court ordered the couple to move out by Thursday.

According to the court ruling, the couple would be forcibly removed if they did not move out of the house by the deadline. No action had been taken on Friday.

Shanghai-based China Business News said an eviction of this nature would create unwanted attention for the government just after the Property Law was passed. It will come into effect on October 1.

Property law expert Zhao Wanyi was quoted by Beijing Evening News as saying he was pleased that citizens were learning to safeguard their rights through the legal system.

But he said it was a concern that by refusing to move out without adequate compensation, the couple could be accused of abusing their individual rights. "There is no absolute right," he said.

Judge Li, whose court sent the notice, told the media on Thursday evening that the court would "follow lawful procedures to deal with the matter", but he refused to say when.

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