Chinese 'nail house' goes viral

Photos of an elderly Chinese couple's house standing in the middle of a huge dual carriageway as they hold out for compensation before leaving have become an internet hit.

  • Published: 23/11/2012 at 02:47 PM
  • Newspaper section: topstories

A half-demolished apartment building stands in the middle of a newly-built road in Wenling, in eastern China's Zhejiang province. An elderly couple have waged a four-year battle to receive more than the US$41,300 compensation offered for the house by the local government of Daxi.

The photographs, widely carried by Chinese state media and websites on Friday, show a partially demolished five-storey block of flats in the centre of the road in the eastern province of Zhejiang.

The phenomenon is called a "nail house" in China, as such buildings stick out and are difficult to remove, like a stubborn nail.

Luo Baogen, 67, and his 65-year-old wife have waged a four-year battle to receive more than the 260,000 yuan ($41,300) compensation offered by the local government of Daxi, the China Daily newspaper said.

"What a sight. I hope they can carry on," said blogger Guangshen Zhuxiaozi on the popular Sina microblog service.

Another who gave the name Ha Pu Sheng said: "The common people are always disadvantaged. The method of the government is so inhumane."

Local governments in China can earn enormous revenue by evicting residents to clear land and then resell it to property developers.

The road has yet to officially open, and state media carried conflicting accounts over whether Luo had finally agreed to accept an offer for his family's home.

Daxi government officials declined to comment.

Despite their new separation from their neighbours, the couple still have mains electricity, running water and cable television, according to the Shanghai Daily.

Some bloggers praised the government's restraint, saying authorities had so far refrained from a forcible eviction and knocking down the building.

"I see progress in local officials," said Wudi De Daniupai.

There have been several previous "nail house" cases, including one in the southwestern city of Chongqing in 2007 in which the property developer excavated a deep pit around the holdout's home.

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