Sat, Mar 24, 2007 - Page 5 News List

Woman refuses to give up home

CAUSE CELEBRE Called the `stubborn nail,' Wu Ping has generated wide discussion in China about abundant land disputes and rights of homeowners


A house belonging to Chinese homeowner Wu Ping, who has become a national cause celebre for holding up a major property development in Chongqing, is surrounded by the ongoing building site excavation on March 10.


A Chinese homeowner has become a national cause celebre for holding up a major property development in southwest China in a three-year battle to protect her house.

Wu Ping's (吳平) modest two-story brick dwelling in Chongqing is now one of the most recognizable homes in China thanks to widely circulated pictures of the structure sitting defiantly in the middle of an excavated construction pit.

A court-set deadline for her to relent passed on Thursday but the 49-year-old Wu, dubbed the "stubborn nail" by Chinese media, vowed to fight on in a case that has highlighted the widespread property disputes in China.

"I'm not stubborn or unruly, I'm just trying to protect my personal rights as a citizen. I will continue to the end," Wu was quoted as saying in the state-run Legal Daily yesterday.

After accepting compensation offers from the builders of the planned residential complex, 280 households have moved out.

But Wu, who now lives elsewhere because of difficulty accessing her home, has not budged even as bulldozers excavated the site around her.

A legal battle has raged since she rejected the compensation offer as she has maintained that she cannot be forced to move out.

A local court ordered her to allow the structure to be torn down by Thursday, although she continued to refuse and it was not immediately clear what steps authorities would take next.

Property disputes are rife in China, often involving illegal land grabs by developers in collusion the government.

The national parliament passed a landmark law solidifying private property rights this month partly to combat such disputes.

Wu's case has generated wide discussion in the media and Chinese Web blogs.

"If this case of the `lonely island' persists, it could become a landmark test for Chinese law," an editorial in the China Youth Daily said yesterday. "If the government does not respect people's rights in the case, it will raise suspicions about the entanglement of civil rights, property development and government interests."

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