Land seizures fuel government tensions

Zhou Mei, a Christian whose family lost their
property at the hands of the Chinese government,
participates in a church service. (Photo: ChinaAid)


(Qingdao, Shandong—Nov. 5, 2018) The Chinese government and businesses often unite to forcibly seize the land of citizens, an act that has become a hallmark of tensions between the authorities and the people, an anonymous ChinaAid reader wrote in a letter. The subsequent information is derived from his writing, which can be read here in Chinese.

The family of Zhou Mei, a Christian woman living in Qingdao, Shandong, said that the local government forcibly destroyed her family’s home and five-acre property in the name of building the Qingdao Junzhou Hotel. Because the process lacked legal procedures and compensation, and the Zhou family fought back. One night, the government organized more than 100 people to break into their home and kidnap Zhou Mei’s parents, Zhou Dixian and Li Ruizhen, in the middle of the night.

Zhou Mei said, “They looted and robbed us of our belongings. A huge excavator pushed the wall of our house, with black smoke rolling and loud noises resounding. Our house collapsed, and our well was buried. Our fruit trees were dug out and lying on the ground. In the blink of an eye, our home was turned into a ruin. We were totally robbed of our property and land without any compensation.”

Before the demolition, the Zhou family owned five acres of grain fields, which provided them with their livelihood. They also had apple trees that were cut down.

When the family reported this incident to the police, they said the event was outside of their jurisprudence and did not perform their duties. The family then had to move to Beijing and could not return to their hometown for many years. 

In March 2017, Zhou Dixian and Li were intercepted by Qingdao officials in Beijing and abducted back to Qingdao, detained, and charged with “seeking troubles.” The family never received an arrest notice, despite the fact that Zhou Dixian and Li have been imprisoned for more than a year and a half. They were tried on Jan. 16, but the court has yet to sentence them.

On Oct. 13, a lawyer met with Li at the Pudong Detention Center in Qingdao. She suffered serious illness and physical ailments as a result of her time spent in the “black jail.” In the detention center, she is forced to get up in the early hours of the morning and is sleep deprived.

Zhou Dixian is being imprisoned at the Laixi Municipal Detention Center. Before authorities apprehended him, he had a disability identification card that identified him as a person with a “third-level disability.” Because he was a Christian, local government agents confiscated his card. He has since been suffering pain in his legs and arms, especially during cold weather and inadequate conditions in the detention center.

In publicizing her parents’ plight, Zhou Mei hopes to gain public attention and intervention and asks that the Qingdao government free her parents.

Such land forced land acquisitions are common in China, becoming one of the primary sources of tension between the government and the people. The letter says the process begins with either the government or a business eyeing a piece of property or a home for commercial purposes. While some incidences end peacefully, with all parties reaching an agreement on reasonable compensation, many others end in massive financial loss for property’s owner. In the worst cases, neither side speaks or comes to any settlement, and instead, police hire people with bad reputations to seize the property and violently abuse anyone who opposes them. The protesters are also often arrested.

According to Chinese law, people have the right to dispute government actions via petitions, and many travel to submit their complaints to upper-level officials. However, local government personnel are often sent to intercept them, and they often endure accusations of “seeking troubles.” Untold numbers of them have been detained in “black jails,” or unofficial prisons, where human rights activists are also kept and tortured. 

ChinaAid exposes abuses, such as those suffered by Chinese citizens who have lost their land, in order to stand in solidarity with the persecuted and promote religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law.

ChinaAid Media Team
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