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China's holdout homeowners stuck in the road

Photographs of an elderly couple's house in the middle of a newly constructed road go viral on the internet.
Last Modified: 23 Nov 2012 09:52
Luo Baogen, the owner of the five-floor "nail" house is still waiting for government compensation [AFP]

Pictures of an elderly couple's house standing in the middle of a huge dual carriageway as they hold out for compensation to leave have gone viral on the internet in China.

The photographs, widely carried by Chinese state media and Internet sites on Friday, show a partially demolished five-storey block of flats in the centre of the road in Wenling city in the eastern province of Zhejiang.

The phenomenon is called a "nail" house in China, as such buildings stick out and are difficult to remove like a stubborn nail.

Luo Baogen, 67, and his 65-year-old wife have waged a four-year battle to receive more than the 260,000 yuan ($41,300) compensation offered by the local government of Daxi, the China Daily newspaper said.

"What a sight. I hope they can carry on," said blogger Guangshen Zhuxiaozi on the popular Sina microblog service.

Another who gave the name Ha Pu Sheng said: "The common people are always disadvantaged. The method of the government is so inhumane."

Local governments in China can earn enormous revenue by evicting people to clear land and reselling it to property developers, according to AFP news agency.

The road has yet to open officially, and state media carried conflicting accounts over whether Luo had finally agreed to accept an offer for his family's home.

Daxi government officials declined to comment.

Despite their new separation from their neighbours, the couple still have mains electricity, running water and cable television, according to the Shanghai Daily.

Some bloggers praised the government's restraint, saying authorities had so far refrained from a forcible eviction and knocking down the building.

"I see progress in local officials," said Wudi De Daniupai.

There have been several previous "nail house" cases, including one in the southwestern city of Chongqing in 2007 in which the property developer excavated a deep pit around the holdout's home.

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