Update: Wuxi’s Land Grab

Rob Schmitz Jan 18, 2011

A month ago, I blogged about the case of Ding Hongfen, a woman in the Yangtze Delta city of Wuxi. Her family was forced out of their home to make way for luxury villas. She said local officials detained both her and her husband in a secret prison (a local state-owned hotel) in return for publicizing their case (listen to my companion radio piece here, and watch the slideshow). After Ding’s husband, Shen Guodong, escaped from detention, Ding says Wuxi police later arrested him and charged him with ‘obstruction of justice.’ Ding recently called the Marketplace Shanghai Bureau to report that her husband was released from prison on January 10th. She sent me a photo of her and Shen standing in front of their auto shop with her family, holding a placard displaying the single Chinese character yuan: Injustice.

Ding tells me her husband is in good physical health but is very depressed. She says he sleeps most of each day. 2010 has been a tough year for many rural Chinese who live on the outskirts of an expanding urban China. A report released by the China Construction Management and Property Law Research Center says 2010 was China’s worst year for forced demolitions. The report says that local governments are taking on the dirty work of forcibly removing people from their homes; a task traditionally relegated to property developers. The other Wuxi residents in last month’s radio piece, Xue Jihong, and the elderly couple, Xu Longhui and Zhu Damei (see the accompanying photo of the couple in front of their plot of land), are still living in their homes. Their homes were scheduled to be demolished nearly a month ago.

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