House Demolished While Couple Slept

By Karen Cheng
Karen Cheng
Karen Cheng
July 23, 2013 Updated: June 17, 2014

A Chinese couple had their home broken into while they slept, and were abducted so that their house could be demolished by a construction company recently in eastern China. Cui Shemei, the wife, was so shocked that she had a heart attack, according to Chinese media reports.

When the couple reported the matter to the police, they were simply told that the authorities could do nothing about it, not even record it in their system.

The incident happened on the night of May 28 in the county of Linmu, Shandong Province. A recent opinion piece in the Southern Metropolis Daily, a relatively liberal newspaper in Guangdong Province, highlighted the case as an example of the sorts of injustices that can be perpetrated in China without the rule of law.

The couple, Cui and her husband Zhang Shiqiang, had no arrangements for alternative shelter, and they received no compensation from the developer. Their life’s possessions, which they estimated at 500,000 yuan ($81,467) value, were buried in the debris.

In its editorial about the topic, the Southern Metropolis Daily argued that the passive response by the police was a dereliciton of duty, and an attempt to cover-up for the real estate developer. If that were the case, it would not be unique in China, where local officials frequently receive kickbacks from construction companies to permit the tearing down of houses and sale of the land for vast profits, most of which accrue to the officials and developers.

In 2010 an official in Yihuang County of Jiangxi Province became infamous by remarking: “Without forced demolition, there is no New China.”

Linmu county is a village surrounded by recently emerging cities. The developer, Cui Guangan, a former village official, purchased land in the village to construct new buildings. He opted to give an oral promise of payment to the couple whose house he demolished, rather than a written contract.

Hundreds of thousands of mass incidents are sparked every year in China, many because of the demolitions of the houses of unwilling residents.

Karen Cheng
Karen Cheng