While we’ve heard of people being thrown out of their homes in other districts and counties, there seems to be the thought that Shanghai is just too civilized to play host to this kind of brutish behavior. Not so. Just a little before the start of the New Year, residents of Tongbei Lu in the Yangpu District were awakened in the middle of the night by dozens of helmeted workers armed with metal bars and bricks. Le Monde found a video of the attack.
Local photographer Tim Franco, who helped Le Monde with the story, has added English subtitles to the video and forwarded it to us. According to the people there, the attack lasted more than an hour. The residents called police but nobody ever came – when asked, police allegedly said that “As long as there is no dead body, we are unable to help…”
While Shanghai Daily published an article on the event, it seems that Baiduing and Googling “431 Tongbei Lu (通北路431号)” still produces nothing from Chinese-language news sources.
Ironically, I was sent this just a day after the State Council issued rules promising an end to forced demolitions. The council debated and then rubber stamped a draft regulating land acquisitions:
Photo by Tim Franco for Le Monde
The draft says compensation paid to homeowners should not be lower than the sum of the market price of the property, the cost of moving and temporary accommodation, and losses caused by suspension of business.
Governments should expand public participation in the approval of house acquisition plans, the draft says.
If a majority of people oppose the plan, they should call for a public hearing and modify the plans, it adds.
House developers are prohibited from being involved in relocations, according to the new draft, and agencies which are responsible for acquisition and compensation should not be profit-oriented.
Forced demolitions without proper legal approval are banned under the new regulations, and the government must obtain court approval in cases where demolition is disputed.
While the law is a step in the right direction, I can’t help but wonder how effective it actually will be – especially since, as a recent report noted, most of these forced evictions are being done by none other than the government themselves. When China – and especially big cities – is already ignoring laws it put into place three years ago, what is one new piece of regulation going to do?
Side Note: China Geeks has translated Part II of that excellent report. Definitely read through it.