Hundreds of protesters blocked a major thoroughfare in the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou on Tuesday in protest at forced evictions and lack of compensation, amid stalled development work on the site of their former homes.
According to posts on the popular microblogging service Sina Weibo, the last local residents were forcibly removed from their beds by gangs of men armed with steel poles at 2:00 a.m. in February following a bitter eviction process which began in 2007.
Demolition gangs proceeded to tear down four families’ homes in Qilihe village, including those of Cao Qiangguo, Jiao Qinlian, and Yin Yushan, the posts said.
On Tuesday, local residents—who say they are still in inadequate temporary accommodation amid a stalled development project—blocked a major intersection between the city’s Zhongzhou Street and Hanghai East Road, online posts said.
Photographs posted by Weibo users showed a semicircle of hundreds of people at a large intersection surrounded by residential tower blocks.
“They have demolished all the homes now,” said one former resident of Qilihe village. “[The villagers] are all living in temporary housing.”
“All those people feel a bit aggrieved.”
A local resident surnamed Shen said a lack of funds had led to delays in continuing the planned project on the plots now vacated by villagers.
“I’ve been over there to look, and it’s clear that the developer hasn’t any money [to proceed].”
He said the problem is a common one amid a strong penchant for land speculation by cash-strapped local governments and enterprises linked to them.
“How many developers are genuine developers nowadays?” Shen asked.
“They depend on the support of the banks.”
China’s bank lending has slowed this year amid government attempts to rein in property prices and a crackdown on informal local money markets.
An official who answered the phone at the Qilihe government offices said the problem had already been resolved.
“This has been sorted out now,” the official said, but declined to comment further. “You’ll have to come here and see for yourself. I can’t tell you this on the phone.”
But a villager surnamed Pu said the problem looked set to persist.
“Right now in China developers don’t have any money,” he said. “They all depended on peaking property prices, but now the Chinese government has put pressure on banks to slow lending, so it’s not easy to get loans.”
“There were also curbs on people buying second homes, which was very bad for developers, many of whom are just putting up a facade.”
In September, thousands of angry residents took to the streets of Lufeng, in the southern province of Guangdong, smashing vehicles and clashing with police in protest after land requisitioned by their local government lay idle for years.
China already sees thousands of “mass incidents” across the country every year, according to official statistics, many of which are protests or sit-ins linked to forced evictions, allegations of corruption, and disputes over rural land sales.