Henan Couple Takes Compensation for Forcibly Demolished Home

Zhong Hongwei stands upon the ruins of his home in Henan, that was forcibly demolished after he and his wife were abducted in the middle of the night.

From NetEase:

Henan Midnight Forced Demolition Couple Changes Tune: Have Wronged The Government

Summary: The forced demolition of residential housing incident in Henan Xinzheng Longhu has had a dramatic development: Zhang Hongwei has expressed in an interview that he has made a mistake and wronged the government. In addition, Zhang Hongwei claims they have already agreed to and signed a compensation agreement with the government, and that the compensation amount is the same as what was offered before the forced demolition. In the face of this outcome, he expressed satisfaction.

Related News:

Husband and Wife Taken Away and their Home Demolished, Officials Issue Statement Claiming “[They] Demanded A Sky-High Price” That Was Then Deleted

Couple’s Home Demolished After Being Dumped in Cemetery, Officials: The Original Building of the Housing Was Not Approved

Henan Xinzheng Confirms “Midnight Forced Demolition” Incident Was True, Identity of Forced Demolition Participants Uncertain

Follow-up to Henan Couple Suffering Midnight Forced Demolition: Village Head Removed from Office

The Mirror report — The forced demolition of residential housing incident in Henan province Xinzheng city has had a dramatic development tonight [August 12]: Zhang Hongwei, who with his wife were abducted and dumped in a cemetery by unknown individuals, expressed during an interview with The Mirror today that his own actions were wrong, and has wronged the government. In addition, Zhang Hongwei claims that has already reached an agreement this afternoon with the local government concerning compensation.

At 6pm this evening, Zhang Hongwei expressed to this Mirror journalist that he spent the entire afternoon negotiating with Longhu town government officials, ultimately agreeing to and signing a compensation agreement. According to his disclosures, the compensation amount in the signed agreement was not increased and remains the same as the compensation amount offered by the village before the forced demolition. However, in the face of this outcome, Zhang Hongwei himself expressed to The Mirror: “I’m satisfied with this kind of result”.

At around 6pm today, Zhang Hongwei came to the ruins of his home accompanied by a relative, took a look, and then hurriedly left.

With behavior that was completely different from his previous media interviews, Zhang Hongwei unexpectedly and repeatedly indicated during an interview with this Mirror reporter that he already recognizes his mistake, and that his previous behavior was “only caring about my own benefit, and did not consider the importance of the major [public works] project.”

According to media reports, in the early morning of August 8, Zhang Hongwei and his wife were sound asleep when unknown individuals broke into their home and forcibly abducted them. They were taken to the public cemetery in town and held there against their will for as long as four hours. By the time the couple had gotten home, their four-story building had been forcibly demolished, having become a pile of rubble, with their valuables buried under the rubble to this day.

As it is understood by The Mirror, in the days after his house was knocked down, Zhang Hongwei and wife had erected a tent on the rubble, guarding the valuables under the rubble.

henan-chinese-couple-abducted-in-middle-of-night-return-to-demolished-home-05

After this incident of forced demolition was exposed/reported by the media, it attracted widespread attention from society. The local government successively issued two statements in response. One of the bulletins claimed: After preliminary investigation, in 2008, Zhang Hongwei had privately built a four-story building, totaling 420 square meters, without approval from the relevant government department. 2012 April 12, Longhu town began land requisition work for the 107 National Highway [project], which would affect over a hundred households, with Zhang Hongwei’s building being within the scope of the land to be requisitioned. At the time, only Zhang Hongwei’s household refused to be relocated for the demolition. 2014 January, the Zhengzhou Subway Line 2 Southern Extension project was officially launched, and Zhang Hongwei’s building once again was within the scope of the land to be requisitioned for the key public works project, the solitary residential building in this engineering project. Despite multiple attempts at negotiation, Zhang Hongwei insisted on a sky-high price [for his property], refused to cooperate, caused a halt in construction for over 20 days resulting in serious losses for the construction company, and directly affected the progress of the suburban rail construction project. To ensure that the major project can be smoothly completed, those in charge of directing the land requisition for the engineering project decided to hand the work of requisitioning Zhang Hongwei’s building to the local Xiaoqiao village government.

Afterward, the local government then issued another response saying that what has been reported in the media is basically true, and that it has already established a working group to conduct an investigation.

Zhang Hongwei previously expressed in interviews with reporters that the main reason he did not agree to the demolition and relocation was because he believes the compensation amount was too low. He believed it should be in accordance with the latest nationalized land transfer compensation criteria, where compensation should be given based on market prices. He said that the prices in Longhu town for commercial housing are around 5000 yuan per square meter.

The compensation amount that Zhong Hongwei previously considered too low is: 690 yuan per square meter — this is the local government’s publicized compensation standard.

As is understood by this Mirror journalist, on the afternoon of August 11, a member of the Xinzheng municipal discipline inspection committee approached Zhang Hongwei and his wife to learn about the situation. This morning, the local public security organs also went to the ruins to find them to learn more about the case.

At around 4pm this afternoon, Zhang Hongwei was called to the Longhu government to continue negotiations to resolve this matter. In the end, both sides reached and signed a compensation agreement.

In response to this Mirror reporter questioning if he himself also felt he was a “nail house” that was “asking for a sky-high price”, Zhang Hongwei hesitated before ultimately repeating and emphasizing, “At the time, I myself did not understand that I was wrong”. In response to the question of whether or not he was being pressured, Zhang Hongwei did not respond directly, only expressing that the town government staff had reasoned with him, making him realize that he had previously been mistaken/wrong.

With regards to the compensation agreement signed this afternoon, Zhang Hongwei says it was he himself who signed the agreement with the government, and that although his wife wasn’t present, he had communicated with her on the phone, and that his wife was also in agreement.

After Zhang Hongwei left, his relative helped to take down the tent on the rubble. Zhang Hongwei says he will no longer guard the ruins [of his demolished former home]. As for where his home will be in the future, Zhang Hongwei says: “Don’t know yet.”

henan-chinese-couple-abducted-in-middle-of-night-return-to-demolished-home-04

Comments from NetEase:

网易广东省东莞市网友 ip:119.127.*.*

A house is admittedly important, but one’s life is most important, because without your life, what use is a house?

无翅之徒 [网易北京市丰台区手机网友]:

Have you done right by those who have supported you? Of course, you have your freedom and your lack of choice [reasons compelling him to make the decision he has made].

网易广东省深圳市宝安区网友 ip:219.133.*.*

I shouldn’t come to NetEase to comment, as it is not doing right by the government!

hk1717 [网易河北省邢台市网友]:

People must lower their heads for the eaves!!!

网易上海市手机网友 ip:140.207.*.*

Involuntary, but with the money in hand now, a wise man looks after his own safety! Nowadays, China doesn’t have people who insist on principles.

xbf0126 [网易上海市嘉定区手机网友]:

He has betrayed all the people who have cared for him [been concerned with his case]. But this is also goal of our concern for him [his case].

网易湖南省永州市网友 ip:124.229.*.*

Those who are pitiful must have something about them that is detestable!!

网易贵州省贵阳市网友 ip:1.204.*.*

How many inside stories are in this?

网易广东省广州市手机网友 ip:112.96.*.*

A dramatic development.

sunting070711 [网易天津市网友]:

I choke down a laugh [or “motherfucking hehe”]!!!

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  • mr.wiener

    A “negotiated settlement”.…
    On the one hand I feel the bile rising in my throat, on the other hand I can understand why they gave in.
    Doubtlessly people will be drawing comparrisons with the west and the heavy handed police responce this week . All I can say is… checks and balances. Something we ALL need to make sure the authorities do not become too arrogant in their power.

    • Kai

      It’s really tempting to conclude this guy was coerced or otherwise pressured into settling.

      The only thing seemingly conclusive is that whoever had them abducted and their building forcibly demolished had committed a crime, and maybe that’s why the village head has been sacked.

      But the question remains: is he settling because he feels he’s lucky to get anything at all now, or is it because–as he now says– he’s realized his previous demands may not have been justified? Was the building really an illegally constructed building that the government entirely within its rights to tear down? Or is that a government fabrication in order to spin this story? Was his demands for 5000 RMB/sqm justified by local market conditions for his kind of accomodations? Or was that an inflated figure, where he’s making unreasonable comparisons of value?

      It seems two major public projects have come by and he already survived the first one when everyone else was satisfied with the compensation offered for relocation. He’s been a holdout twice. This of course does not justify the illegal means authorities used to evict him and demolish his building, but it and the possibility that his building wasn’t legal in the first place does make him less sympathetic.

      A lot of Chinese netizens who took his side are pretty annoyed by this result. It isn’t fair for them to demand that he potentially be a martyr but it doesn’t seem like he’s challenging the claims by the government. Is he not challenging them because they’re true or because he’s being compelled to play along. It’s easy to be skeptical of the government but sometimes the government really is in the right about certain things (even as they might be wrong about other things). I just wish we could know for sure. The media at least seems to be echoing people’s skepticisms, which at least means the media isn’t being strong-armed into presenting a one-sided narrative, which the government could do if it really wanted to.

      • WinterSmitten

        I guess we can only speculate. Really, who knows the truth behind this story.

        Kidnapping and such aside, he’s not entitled to anything if his house was ilegally constructed. I would imagine, at best, he might be able to get compensation for his personal things inside the house when it was demolished.

        Now when we consider the kidnapping, I’m sure he could probably get a lot more. Or at least he’d be entitled to it.

        If this was just a story about him being a dick and trying to cheat the gov’t out of some money I wouldn’t feel sorry for him. Throw in a kidnapping and you make it harder to see him as the bad person in the larger picture. So it makes sense that the gov’t would try to give him (or force him) into a deal that might make them look like they’ve risen to the occasion and done something good… though I imagine if the guy decided to just say screw the compensation and pursue the people who did this, it could possibly hurt them even more.

        If he really did have his papers in order, well I don’t know what to say. Power of the media and gov’t. Good luck to him if this is the case.

      • ClausRasmussen

        >> Was his demands for 5000 RMB/sqm justified

        5000 RMB/m2 times 420m2 equals 2.1m RMB. It sounds a little excessive for a cheaply built house in a rural Henan where the yearly disposable household income is 5500 RMB

        http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Chinese_administrative_divisions_by_disposable_income_per_capita

  • simon

    I believe he will be getting much more than 690yuan/square meter, win win.

  • Amused

    Well…. Isn’t it heartwarming to see a government that truly loves and respects it’s subjects so much. I mean, obviously he forgot that no one owns anything in China, and that everything truly belongs to the people, and as such, much be used to make(at least a few) of the people happy. But I’m sure, now that he’s come to his senses, it makes him feel very special to know that his government will benefit from his ex-house. I mean who wouldn’t? Just the sort of thing to inspire patriotism in any man! Boy, I just wish my government would come tear my house down too. Until then, I will have to admire this fellow and resent his super good luck : /

  • AbC

    I have a funny feeling that the couple got offered a lot more to say what they said during th interview. Coercion alone may not be enough to make one so submissive, especially someone involved in such a high profile case. In order to avoid causing uproar to the residents who agreed earlier, the official amount paid has to be the same.

    There’s probably a larger sum to be paid secretly after they say what they were told to say.

    • Amused

      Man we’ll never really know. That’s the thing about the construction biz over here. Could have worked out so many different ways. But still…. He looks super happy.

  • b duck

    too sad!

  • Rick in China

    I like this part…
    “As it is understood by The Mirror, in the days after his house was knocked down, Zhang Hongwei and wife had erected a tent on the rubble, guarding the valuables under the rubble.”

    Guarding the valuables. Yes, in looking at the images, I can imagine the piles of jewelry and expensive items buried beneath the brick/wire which seems to make up 99% of all of the rubbish pile that once was their home.

    They weren’t guarding any valuables. They were essentially protesting because they didn’t know WTF to do now that they were left immediately homeless after being snatched out of their home and coming back to a flattened pile of shit.

    If he was asking for 5000/sqm, which may be the top limit of the market value for whatever the shitty town’s top quality newest building projects in good locations are….no wonder they snatched ’em and tore it down. Then again, 690/sqm *seems* terrible.. but if you think back just a few years, many countryside-level towns outskirts areas were often around that price, does this look like it’s in a well developed area? Maybe that’s realistic, just not realistic when all you’re looking at is new ‘commercial’ prices even though what you own is little more than a few bricks placed near eachother.

  • SongYii

    Well… principles don’t keep the rain off your back.

    • BeetFarmer

      Well said. Sobering and disappointing, but… well said.

  • Irvin

    We are all victims of circumstance, given the same situation, most of us will do the same; collection the money and shut up.

  • Foreign Devil

    I”m always amazed how after coming out of detainment . . everybody is transformed, repentant, guilty and sorry for their evil ways. The police and government must have some amazing tools!

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