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Beiwu follow-up 4: Resistance

July 12, 2012

Beiwu village pilot project –the villagers “move out voluntarily”

2009-12-14 in the afternoon, a large quantity of police and government officials came to Beiwu village, located to the south of Yuquan mountain in Haidian. Forming a security cordon, they surrounded the house of Xi Xinzhu. Xi Xinzhu still recovering from injuries after having been attacked not long before, poured gasoline on himself, and shouted at the intruders not to come inside. One of those persons said to him, “Don’t just play around,” and forced his way in, and at that instant Xi Xinzhu ignited himself.

In China here are many demolitions by force. Even though they are unjust, there still is a certain legal procedure to follow. Those demolishing must still bring a demolition permit. Yet what occurred in Beiwu was supposed to be something different, a new concept –not forced demolition, but “voluntary evacuation.” There was no need to initiate legal proceedings, because everyone involved had consented and agreed.

At the beginning of 2009, the Beiwu pilot project of “urban and rural unification” began. 3-19, the Beijing Youth Daily reported that in Beiwu they had broken ground for the cornerstone of the replacement housing. Those guiding the construction said the villagers would be able to move to their new housing by the end of the 10th month. Zhang Quan, the Yuquan village committee secretary in charge of the “evacuation” said that on the land on which Beiwu village currently stood, the plan was to build a high class restaurant and a large scale development, the Yuquan Huigu Second Stage Scientific Research Park.

2009-03-24, the Beiwu Village Transformation Plan was released. The plan affirmed that the demolition and relocation was occurring through the villagers self-autonomy.  However, Article 5 of the plan states, “there will be a deadline set for the negotiations to determine the amount of compensation. Once the deadline has passed, there will be a 15 day period in which the persons involved can apply to the Sijiqing town government to act as mediators. If no settlement is arrived at within this period, according to the Yuquan village committee organic law, those who have not moved out will be forced to move out.”

2009-04-and 05. Preparations to begin the pilot project. 4-25: finish  surveying and estimating the value of existing village structures.


I went to Beiwu village at the request to a number of villagers to do an investigation. I interviewed a random sample of some 30 villagers. There was not one who was “voluntarily” moving out. The reason was simple. When one square meter of land is exchanged for one square meter in a multi-storied building, it is clear at a glance which is the better value. The villagers can always rent out rooms when they live in compounds to generate income, but when they move to a multi-story building, what are they going to to live on? Also, the villagers are being displaced from their land, but they don’t know when the replacement housing will be ready — it is still in the process of construction.

To complete the “voluntary evacuation,” government department officials have come frequently to this area.There are posters all over the village with slogans. These apply an irresistible pressure on  the villagers. The government demands that those who resist must negotiate, if they refuse, they will not be able to work. Further, on 6-01 when the evacuation started, there appeared a gang of unidentified men roaming about. Doors and windows were smashed, bricks hurled into the compounds of those who were resisting. They even stopped water service, electricity, and telephone service to those compounds, etc etc.

In my capacity as a representative of the Haidian district People’s Congress, I proposed that a basis for equitable compensation for the villagers be put into law. I wanted the issues of compensation and replacement housing to be fully settled before the demolition began. But this proposal was not acted on.

2009-11-24 We again went to Beiwu at the request of some villagers. At nightfall we saw a group of unidentified men wearing camouflage clothing. Less than an hour after we left the village, Xi Xinzhu and his fellow villager Yu Xingui were assaulted by six unknown men. Xi Xinzhu’s right arm , right leg (tibia bone), and shoulder blade were broken, and he had numerous other injuries. Yu Xingui was in a stupor, with blood streaming all over his face.

2009-12-12. The Yuquan village committee announced that the Xi family had a final deadline of 12-14 at 8 AM to move out. On the 14th in the afternoon, the stand-off occurred and Xi Xinzhu ignited himself.


It was been reported that “voluntary evacuation” will be the model for the demolition and relocation process to be applied to all of Beijing.


konjaku: The above is excerpts from a longer article which appeared in the Nanfeng Chuang (South Wind Window). The author is identified as :许志永 Xu Zhiyong, activist and member of the Haidian District People’s Congress. The original article continues with a discussion examining the legal issues pertaining to forcible demolition, also comparing comparing China’s approach to other countries.

Here is the first paragraph of that section:

If we compare the case of Xi Xinzhu to to the self-immolation incident of Tang Fuzhen in Chengdu, in Beiwu the forcible demolition was a direct action of the village committee. It was done on the basis of being a “voluntary evacuation,” in order to transform the village collective land. There was no certified plan, no official land requisition document, no hearing, no demolition and relocation permit process, no contestation too be adjudicated, no application to enforce the demolition. In fact, there was no legal process whatsoever. They simply demolished the home which the Xi family held according to lawful property rights.


konjaku: For more on Xu Zhiyong, including his detention on 2012-06-07, see China Digital Times:


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