Home in China becomes symbol of resistance

In the middle of an eastern Chinese city’s new main road, rising incongruously from a huge circle in the freshly laid pavement, is a five-story row house with ragged edges. This is the home of the duck farmer who said “no.”

Luo Baogen and his wife are the lone holdouts from a neighborhood that was demolished to make way for the main thoroughfare heading to a newly built railway station on the outskirts of the city of Wenling in Zhejiang province.

Dramatic images of Luo’s home have circulated widely online in China this week, becoming the latest symbol of resistance in the frequent standoffs between Chinese homeowners and local officials accused of offering too little compensation to vacate neighborhoods for major redevelopment projects.

There’s even a name for the buildings that remain standing as their owners resist development. They are called “nail houses” because the homeowners refuse to be hammered down.

Nail house families occasionally have resorted to violence. Some homeowners have even set themselves on fire in protests. Often, they keep 24-hour vigils because developers will shy away from bulldozing homes when people are inside.

Xiayangzhang village chief Chen Xuecai said Friday that city planners decided that Luo’s village of 1,600 had to be moved for a new business district anchored by the train station. Chen said most families agreed to government-offered compensation in 2007.

Luo, 67, and a handful of neighbors in other parts of the new district are holding out for more.

“We want a new house on a two-unit lot with simple interior decoration,” Luo said Thursday in video footage.

Luo had just completed his house at a cost of about $95,000 when the government first approached him with their standard offer of $35,000 to move out — which he refused, Chen said. The offer has since gone up to $41,000.

“The Luo family is not rich,” Chen said, acknowledging that they can ill afford such a big loss on their home. “But the policy is what it is.”

The new road to the railroad station was completed in recent weeks, and has not yet been opened for traffic.

What is unusual in Luo’s case is that his house has been allowed to stand for so long. It is common for local authorities in China to take extreme measures, such as cutting off utilities or moving in to demolish when residents are out for the day.

Luo said his electricity and water are still flowing, and that he and his wife sleep in separate parts of the home to deter any partial demolition.

Deputy village chief Luo Xuehua — a cousin to the duck farmer — said he didn’t expect the dispute to go on much longer. He said he expects Luo Baogen to reach an agreement with the government soon, though he said the homeowner’s demands are unrealistic.

“We cannot just give whatever he demands,” Luo Xuehua said. “That’s impossible.”

More in Local News

Bicycle tour raises money for dialysis patients

Volunteers also shared health information and put together care packages for homeless women.

Elderly couple escape serious injuries in crash with train

The driver drove down tracks instead of a road, hitting a slow-moving train near Stanwood.

Boeing reaches out to schools

Company employees helped Everett students at recent reading and Manufacturing Day events.

5-vehicle collision sends school bus into ditch; no injuries

No students were hurt when a school bus crashed into… Continue reading

Fire crew returns early from wildfires in Northern California

Four Everett firefighters returned from battling California wildfires late Thursday… Continue reading

Theft lands former insurance salesman 50 days in jail

A former insurance salesman is expected to report to jail… Continue reading

Pair of intrepid musicians climb N. Cascades summits to play

Rose Freeman and Anastasia Allison pack their instruments up mountains for high-altitude recitals.

Expect river levels to keep rising, though sun is on the way

Some could crest above minor and moderate flood levels.

Oregon senator punished over alleged inappropriate touching

Democratic Sen. Sara Gelser didn’t identify anyone by name.

Most Read