THE PITFALLS OF HOLDING OUT
Life isn’t easy for the residents who, for financial reasons or otherwise, decide to hold out.
Often their electricity and water supply lines will be cut as developers prepare the land for construction.
Communal kitchens and bathrooms may also be destroyed, leaving families to cope with portable gas hobs, buckets, rainwater.
On Fuxing Lu last December, residents were washing themselves under an outdoor tap in the middle of the block.
In some cases, holdout residents have been summoned to the police station, only to find their house demolished when they return. There have also been stories of violent kidnappings, such as in 2013, when a middle-aged couple, Chen Zhongdao and Xie Guozhen, were reportedly bound, gagged and thrown into the back of a van while a crew hired by the local government demolished their home. It’s all technically illegal but residents have little recourse.
It wasn’t clear what had happened to this house in Hongkou, but arson has been used to scare residents into submission in the past. Shanghai residents will never forget the Maggie Lane murders in 2004, when, on the eve of Chinese New Year, thugs hired to smoke out an elderly couple ended up setting their house on fire, burning the residents alive in their bed. There has also been a spate of self-immolation suicides across China in recent years.
There’s truth in the old Chinese proverb. Eggs should think twice before fighting with stones.