By Cal Widdall
The gripping photographs above were taken on March 21st as four households were demolished in Yangqi village, Guangzhou. The distraught woman is Huang Sufang, whose house was half-demolished in an apparent ‘accident’ as her neighbour’s house was being taken down.
Yangqi village is adjacent to Guangzhou’s shiny new central business district, Pearl River New City, and, as with every other community unlucky enough to stand in the way of China’s relentless march towards modernity, was slated for demolition two years ago. Fifteen ‘nail houses‘ remain, however, with the owners refusing to sign relocation agreements.
Huang Sufang has lived in the village for 19 years and, though the house isn’t registered under her name, she has produced a document from a notary showing the owners allow her to reside there. “I don’t ask for much. i just want to be reimbursed for the damages to my house, but the court doesn’t have the time to listen to me.”
The authorities in charge of the demolition said Huang’s demands for compensation were invalid, since she was not the owner of the house. When asked about an alleged promise to Huang that her house would be left intact, the demolition crew responded that no such promise had been made, and that “The house doesn’t belong to her, so who’s house are we really demolishing?”
It’s difficult to refrain from seeing the images as an allegory for contemporary China, in which a single citizen’s situation is ignored by authorities in their rush to grab land for the sake of their own monetary gain (also cue the usual pabulum about tearing down ugly tenement-style housing for the sake of a Shiny/Modern/Developed China).
No extraterrestrial robot life-forms are going to swoop down and save anyone’s house, and despite her ability to produce official paperwork, Huang’s plea for justice is ignored. Policemen present at the scene stand around with their hands in their pockets during the destruction of her house, and one of them is caught sheepishly grinning at a camera.
Related: Photos: Guangzhou resident refuses to budge from nailhouse
Photos from Southern Metropolis Daily (via Tencent News).