A symbol of resistance.
All but one housing dweller and his wife accepted one local government’s ultimatum to move to make room for a new motorway in the village of Xiayangzhang in the province of Zhejiang in eastern China.
By refusing to move, 67 year old farmer Luo Baogen has found himself becoming an unlikely hero as the local government has now been reduced to scorn and wide ridicule pursuant to the construction of the recent motorway which literally cuts around Luo Baogen’s lonely house.
Luo Baogen for his part resisted moving on account that his house cost 600,000 Yuan (around $96 000) to build whilst authorities offered substantially less to relocate him. At present it is understood up to 500 local dwellers accepted the local government’s request to move except that is for Luo Baogen who has been a lone standoff since 2008. The government has added to cave in to Luo’s demands would be unfair to the other 500 house dwellers who ‘agreed’ to accept the much lower standard relocation rate of roughly 330 yuan a square meter.
Complicating matters is the fact that in 2007, China passed a law guaranteeing private property rights, meaning the government cannot exercise eminent domain. The concept of eminent domain usually allows a government to remove a property if it is for the greater public good with the caveat the house dweller is compensated at market rates.
Reflects Luo Baogen: “What can I do? I was born here. It’s fine if the government buries me here. I won’t move from here if they only give me 260,000 yuan. How would I be able rebuild a house like this with that little money?”
Notes one observer on the web: If Luo Baogen had stood his ground just a decade ago, he and his house would probably be a part of the highway — literally. This shows the Chinese have come to a certain tolerance for individual rights. There are states right here in the US that would not have let him stay there.
Ultimately one wonders if Luo Baogen will have his demands met or like most locals he will be bludgeoned to comply with a spiteful penny pinching local government agency which wishes to preserve its autonomy whilst forcing its will at the expense of the entire project itself?
Of interesting note, the road since its completion has yet to be used.