Old Tree Relocated for Highway, Villagers Clash with Police

A villager is escorted away by police after an old 200-year-old tree is removed to make way for a highway in a Sichuan province village of China.

A villager is escorted away by police after an old 200-year-old tree is removed to make way for a highway in a Sichuan province village of China.

From NetEase:

Sichuan Gulin Country Police Clash with Villagers Over Forced Uprooting of Old Tree

April 13th, Sichuan province Luzhou city Gulin county Jianzhu town Leyuan village, the government mobilized a large number of special police [SWAT/riot police] and People’s Militia to forcibly dig out an old tree over a hundred years old, with over a dozen villagers including a 13-year-old student were beaten and injured in the process.


Villagers say they disagreed when the county government wanted to forcible uproot the over 200-year-old tree, so the county dispatched People’s Militia and police to forcibly cut down the tree, and thus a conflict occurred with the villagers.



The notice posted by the local government. [The notice says the tree will be legally protected given its age but must be relocated for the construction of a highway.]







Comments from NetEase:

zaxwcdvrbgny [网易浙江省杭州市网友]:

Robbers who rob even trees.

网易广东省深圳市手机网友 ip:61.141.*.*:

Some high-level official likes that tree! It “invites wealth” [a “money tree” that brings fortune]! So…

坐等城楼换照片 [网易河南省郑州市手机网友]:

Experience has proven that all relocated old trees ultimately die tragically.

网易福建省南平市手机网友 ip:220.249.*.*:

Does the highway have to go through there? Like Japan, in order to protect a part of a forest, they’d rather spend more money going around it, unlike us where we’d just go and develop it [clear it for development].

樱桃小嘴鲨 [网易江苏省镇江市手机网友]:

There will be retribution/karma…they better watch themselves…

网易陕西省西安市手机网友 ip:123.138.*.*:

They will face retribution/karma!

网易广东省江门市手机网友 ip:59.36.*.*: (responding to zaxwcdvrbgny)

Haven’t we already told you that we won’t take a needle and a piece of thread!!!? [meaning the government will take everything and leave you with almost nothing]

网易河南省郑州市手机网友 ip:219.156.*.*:

Legendary grass mud horse.

网易上海市手机网友 ip:117.184.*.*:

This is our country, hehe…

网易浙江省杭州市手机网友 ip:211.140.*.*:

Hehe! This tree should belong to the villagers.

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Written by Fauna

Fauna is a mysterious young Shanghainese girl who lives in the only place a Shanghainese person would ever want to live: Shanghai. In mid-2008, she started chinaSMACK to combine her hobby of browsing Chinese internet forums with her goal of improving her English. Through her tireless translation of popular Chinese internet news and phenomenon, her English has apparently gotten dramatically better. At least, reading and writing-wise. Unfortunately, she's still not confident enough to have written this bio, about herself, by herself.

  • Mighty曹

    In China old trees and old men meet the same fate. :D

    • Raymond Ngu

      Erectile Dysfunction

      • Mighty曹

        That’s the world over.

      • mr.wiener

        Can’t get wood?

        • Mighty曹

          Hard wood.

    • Insomnicide

      They fall down and sue you?

  • Kai

    Hm, I guess the Taiwanese guy accusing TV serial drama plagiarism was too hard to translate, or would be of far too little relevance to people who aren’t familiar with those Chinese serial dramas.

    • Insomnicide

      What’s the story?

    • Markus Peg

      Is that a trending story in Taiwan or Mainland China? The story you mentioned sounds interesting, more so than the above story which seems unlikely that many Chinese netizens would comment on in comparison to other stories…

      • Kai

        It was trending on Sina Weibo. Dunno about in Taiwan.

        It’s probably too hard to explain because it may require having seen those TV dramas, and its extremely unlikely the vast majority of cS readers have. The Taiwanese guy wrote an open letter to SARFT complaining about it and outlining his complaints, posting it on Weibo.


    • Guang Xiang

      You can’t just leave us hanging like that

    • Mighty曹

      Links, please.

  • fuck the highway yo

    • Mighty曹

      In China, the highways fuck you (when congested).

  • IsurvivedChina

    The future looks bright for China’s highway network!

  • Markus Peg

    Personally if they are up routing it and moving it what’s
    the big issue, the tree should still be able to live right?

    Unless I’m wrong and they are killing the tree, in which case it is a hard one
    as I can understand not wanting to build around one tree… this is a Dilemma
    many countries face and I think many choose the removal and replant option.

    But i would say in my opinion that China has more worthy things of protection that remain unprotected and perhaps the people of China should pick their battles better. However, my opinion may be wrong, this tree may very well be more special than i know…

    • IsurvivedChina

      the tree was special enough for the locals to put up a fight, so I guess it matter to them! There are many places where roundabouts are used as an option to save a tree, would it have been so hard to put one here?

      • Paul Schoe

        A roundabout in China? Cities have tried that over here to speed up traffic but quickly had to take them away again because Chinese people appeared to behave totally unpredictable on a roundabout,

        • Kai

          So do Americans. It’s one of those things people need to be trained for and get used to because they’re so uncommon relative to normal intersections. If you don’t encounter it enough, you hesitate on how to use it, which immediately affects the flow of traffic the roundabout was meant to ease.

    • Insomnicide

      Trees don’t usually survive a replant. Especially not one as old and fragile as this. I agree though, trees can be planted at any time and anywhere. There are much more urgent things in need of attention and protection than this.

      • Alan Dale Brown

        I think there’s more to the story than villagers guarding an old tree. It has to have some sort of deeper significance. From the pictures, it doesn’t look as if they took great care in moving it.

        A few years ago, San Francisco spent $200,000 to relocate a bush that people had ignored for decades. Some people had a hard time believing the city would care so much. The reason? It’s the only known existing example of a Franciscan Manzanita – the rarest plant in the world, and named after the city. It had been believed to be extinct. There isn’t another version of the plant to pollinate it – so the only way it can reproduce is via cloning.

        • ScottLoar

          An admirable story but somewhat countered by the Treaty Oak of Austin:

          “The live oak is believed to be more than 500 years old, and its branches span over 128 feet. It is the only survivor of a group of live oaks known as the Council Oaks. Though proof is lacking, it is said that Stephen F. Austin signed the first boundary agreement between the Indians and the settlers under these trees. According to legend, Indian women would drink a potion made from the leaves of the Treaty Oak during the full moon to ensure their men’s zeal and safety in battle. In 1927 the Treaty Oak was admitted to the American Forestry Association Hall of Fame for Trees and declared the most perfect specimen of a North American tree. The land where the tree grows belonged to the W. H. Caldwell family from 1882 to 1937. Mrs. Caldwell offered the land for sale for $7,000 in 1926 because she could no longer afford the taxes. When efforts by patriotic groups to induce the state legislature to buy the land for a park failed, it was feared that the tree would be cut down by some future developer. The Austin City Council finally bought the land from T. J. Caldwell in 1937 for $1,000. In 1989 Paul Cullen poisoned the Treaty Oak with Velpar, which is specifically designed to kill hardwood trees. In spite of extensive efforts, only about one quarter of the tree was saved. Cullen was tried and convicted of felony criminal mischief and sentenced to nine years in prison.”

          • Kai

            I always enjoy reading random facts like these.

          • mr.wiener

            Me too.

  • Dr Sun

    If only the kungfu police and the police would spend their time protecting the people instead of the interests of some govt running dogs latest corruption scheme, china may get somewhere better and faster.

  • KamikaziPilot

    Sayonara old tree. Our life won’t be the same without your watchful eye. I’ll come visit you in your new digs when I have the time, well actually probably not.

    • Mighty曹

      Sup homie Kami!

      • KamikaziPilot

        Yo Mighty! Glad to see you’re still around on this site. You must be behaving since the mods aren’t getting on your case anymore. Keep them trolls in check for me will you.

        • Mighty曹

          I’ve been on my best behavior. Well, I made some tweaks to humiliate in a more formal and polite manner.

  • bujiebuke

    Based on the text and the pictures, I’d say the municipality has to the right to remove the tree. It seems like they’ve preserved the roots fairly well and plan to relocate it elsewhere.

    It would be a different story if they just came over and just hacked the tree to death…

    Am I missing anything else here? Was it an entwife?

    • lonetrey / Dan


    • Rick in China

      Well, I don’t think the “right” to remove the tree is based on how well they preserve the roots – that’s a separate issue. The question is does the tree reside on someone’s currently leased property or public property. If the tree is on public property, wouldn’t the municipality have the right to do with it as they please?

      It’s good that they’re trying to preserve it, but that’s a separate concern.

      I believe the issue with the peasants is not the TREE as much as the highway and fact that the municipality is just literally steamrolling over them, and they likely want some sorta compensation :D

      • bujiebuke

        I certainly wasn’t implying that the municipality or whatever government agency has the right to dig up the tree because of well preserved roots (haha), although I can see from my writing how you arrived there. I was speaking more to the fact that they (the gov’t) have a wide latitude when it comes to building things anywhere they want. Also, they were considerate to not hack the tree to death.

        Your probably right that it has nothing to do with a tree, I’d guess somebody forgot to bribe the right person…

    • Zappa Frank

      despite the effort, the tree, so old, will likely die after a short time..

    • Kai

      Upvote for the entwife.

      • bujiebuke

        upvote for upvoting entwife

    • ClausRasmussen

      >> It seems like they’ve preserved the roots fairly well

      I don’t think so. When moving large trees, the radius of the root ball should be 4 times the diameter of the tree at one meters height. From the photos I estimate the diameter to be at least 1m so the root ball should have had a radius of 4 meters ! The pictures show that they’re nowhere near that.

      Also, the best time of year to move a tree is in the Autumn. Not in the spring as they’re doing here.

      Moving big trees like this is very difficult. My guess is that it will be dead within a year.

      • bujiebuke

        Good to know for future reference when I need to move a giant ancient tree.

        • Hank

          200 years is a baby when youre talking about trees. Ancient it ain’t.

      • David

        Amazing what you can learn at ChinaSmack

  • ScottLoar

    Sometimes people just tire being pushed about and so push and pull in turn over what seems to be trivial.

    • Germandude

      Good to see you back again.

  • Germandude

    I am a bit confused that people are willing to fight the police for the relocation of a tree. I have yet to read villagers fighting the police for their neighbors being relocated?!

    • Mighty曹

      The villagers really should have fought the relocation for the Three Gorges Dam project.

      • David

        lol oh they did, long and often.

        • Mighty曹

          Nope. Not enough. Saw that documentary on Discovery Channel where villagers were ‘compensated’ to leave their houses that spanned a few generations. Some sees it as an opportunity to leave the village for other opportunities elsewhere. Now most of these villages are underwater.

          • David

            True, I don’t know about the actual villagers but thousands of scientists from China and around the world made loud objections. Everything from archeologists and historians to environmental scientists, civil engineers and even monks. For twenty years they complained and were ignored.

          • Mighty曹

            Yes, just about everyone except the villagers.

    • ClausRasmussen

      Can’t you imagine that people have other values and other priorities than you ?

  • outraged and protesting over a tree?…when will they be outraged over tainted food and corrupt officials allowing their friends to dump toxic chemicals into their water supply and rivers?

    • IsurvivedChina

      didn’t they just protest recently over the proposed chemical plant? seems to me there is a lot of this form of protest!

    • Kai

      They’re always outraged about those things. Stop thinking Chinese people can’t hold two thoughts in their mind at once. What? Americans outraged over Miley Cyrus twerking? What about dead Afghan babies?!?

      See how stupid that is? Stop it. Can’t believe you have 7 upvotes.

      • if you could stop TWERKING and listening to GANGNAM STYLE…you could have a better life…good luck sir

        • Kai

          I don’t have the waist muscles for twerking and I thought Mother Father Gentleman sucked so bad I swore off Gangnam Style.

  • Subhajit

    It is reality that when any one do protest against the Government work either that be good or bad, surely Goverment will try to root out the protest either by force or by giving various words but here which incident did happen by beating the general people who did protest it is very shamefull as they have right to do protest to save the tree which they demanding as 200 yrs. old, so surely it is a historical tree from one way but from other way Government issued that they will make a new subway through that place, so it will have to concider to cut the tree following to stablish the subway but should need to do on the way of peace as those protesters are the part of country people, so they have right to say and Government can not inforce them to stop to say, so Governent should need to polite as sweet words and understandable words can do anything on way of peace rather than beating or other cruel way as what Goverenment doing those good philanthropist work that is only for the people of the country.

    • Mighty曹

      Unfortunately the Chinese Government is not known for being polite.

      • Subhajit

        I think it needs the heart to realize and to understand the fact of common peoples by the way of peace and humanity and as philanthropist.

  • Foreign Devil

    This article surprised me. I assumed almost all Chinese peasants did not care anything for the natural world, except as something to exploit and use for money until it is dried up and dead. Gives me faith.

    • papa bear

      when it comes to an old tree, it’s not natural, but spiritual to chinese people traditional beliefs.

      • Kai

        Yeah, there may be that, as evidenced in the comments about karma.

  • Don’t Believe the Hype

    At least they are “preserving” it. They could have just thrown it off the cliff. Of course, I have no idea how much effort they are going to put into re-locating a tree.

    • Don’t Believe the Hype

      I see how some commentators here were concerned with the issue of property. In that regard cutting down the tree does seem wrong.

  • I can (un) dig this because I love flora and fauna and trees in particular. I wish we Murkans had the cajones to step up against something that is apparently as trivial as this. Somehow, citizens in “commie” countries feel more compelled to rise up against injustice. What does that say about us corn-fed cattle?