ECONOMIC OBSERVER/SHANGHAI ONLINE NEWS (China)
Song Wenchao has become an unlikely hero in China. The 50-year-old man lives in the only remaining house on a building site in Hunan Province. All the others have been torn down by the Changsha City Government.
Song's home is still standing -- but only because he refuses to leave. It's the house he was born in, he points out. The one his family has been living in for generations.
See below picture of Song Wenchao from the news website www.voc.com.cn
To discourage unwanted visitors there are three dogs - including a Tibetan mastiff, 18 video surveillance cameras and two automatic water jets. Having abandoned the ground floor, Song is now holed up in the house's upper floor. He has even demolished the staircase connecting the two. A banner outside warns: Private. Don't approach. You yourself will be responsible for the consequences of any intrusion.
The standoff began three years ago when Changsha City officials classified Song's house as shanty. The city tried to tear it down. "Authorites appraised the property at 420,00 RMB (nearly $66,000)," Song told the Economic Observer. "We are seven brothers and sisters. The share of this money won't even be enough to buy ourselves each a cremation casket."
Song is outraged. According to Shanghai Online News, a new apartment in the surrounding area costs more than 10,000 RMB ($1,500) per square-meter.
China's economic boom has spread to each corner of the country, and development involving construction is often the only way for corrupt local officials to put money in their pockets. Expropriations and demolitions have become commonplace throughout China. Desperate people brutally forced from their homes have frequently turned to desperate acts of suicide or violence.
Chen Ronghui, a neighbor who was present when the Economic Observer reporter interviewed Song, recalled what happened to his mother two years back: "A bunch of tattooed men with shaved heads forced their way into her home in the middle of the night and bullied by old mother, who was over 70, into signing a document to sell her house."