The sound of fireworks broke out in Laoshan District of Shandong Province recently, but not in celebration. When government-sanctioned excavators and urban law enforcement officials, called chengguan, showed up on the morning of Aug. 16 to block off and demolish a group of residential buildings, one man, surnamed Wang, lit and threw explosive firecrackers down upon them from the second floor of his residence, sending people scurrying for cover. Ultimately, the excavation was carried out and Wang lost his property.
According to the People’s Daily Online, the official mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, the local government is demolishing the homes of villagers near Li Sha Road to make way for public transportation intended to service the upcoming International Horticultural Exposition 2014.
Unsatisfied with the meager compensation they would be allotted, villagers refused to move out. Because the area is close to the Ocean University of China, it has been a popular spot for construction and business since 2005. Authorities are now claiming that these constructions are illegal, despite their not having intervened with local business for eight years prior.
Wang is a villager from Bei Long Kou District. Since 2008, Mr. Wang has constructed and rented out four adjacent buildings, whose tenants use the space for their businesses. In order for property to be demolished, owners must be compensated based on the established standard, Wang told local media.
Residents find the sudden appearance of bulldozers and demands for them to evacuate questionable: Where were the government officials when the construction was done in the first place? Why are the accusations and demolitions happening only now that the value of property has increased? What led to the authorities’ eight-year oversight?
In China, chengguan are notorious for their abuse of power, and the term has become synonymous with violence. Earlier this year, watermelon seller Deng Zhengjia was beaten to death by a chengguan, who struck him hard in the head with his own small metal melon weight. People in the community prevented his body from being seized by the officers, whereupon the local government sent riot police to quell the crowd. Photographs of elderly Chinese with bloodied faces later appeared online.