The plight of the individual homeowner who holds out against big developers to keep his or her land is a familiar story around the world.
But in China, where economic growth is king and the authoritarian government has little patience for dissent, such cases make heroes of the occupants and attract a huge amount of interest.
In the People’s Republic, these houses are known as dingzihu or “nail houses”, a pun which compares them to stubborn nails that refuse to be hammered down in hard wood.
According to the New York Times, the Chinese government has previously banned the news media and bloggers from reporting on such homes for fear that they represent a symbol of resistance.
China's extraordinary 'nail houses'
China's extraordinary 'nail houses'
1/8 Nail houses in China
A general view shows the demolition of a 'nail house', the last house in the area, at a construction site in Guangzhou, Guangdong province. The owners of the house had filed but lost a lawsuit against the developer of the land to seek more compensation before agreeing to the demolition of their home. The land will be used for a high-rise apartment project. Chinese media have since seized on disputes between developers and owners of so-called 'nail houses', whose owners have stuck to their ground and resisted demolition, holding up development projects in the world's fastest-growing major economy
2/8 Nail houses in China
A half-demolished apartment building standing in the middle of a newly-built road thanks to a Chinese couple that refused to move in Wenling, in eastern China's Zhejiang province. Luo Baogen, 67, and his 65-year-old wife have waged a four-year battle to receive more than the 41,300 USD compensation offered by the local government of Daxi, a Chinese newspaper said. The phenomenon is called a 'nail house' in China, as such buildings stick out and are difficult to remove, like a stubborn nail
3/8 Nail houses in China
A 'nail house', the last building in the area, sits in the middle of a road under construction in Nanning, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. According to local media, the owner of the house didn't reach an agreement with the local authority about compensation of the demolition
4/8 Nail houses in China
A three-storey 'nail house', the last building in the area, with a Chinese national flag on its rooftop is seen in the middle of a newly-built road in Luoyang, Henan province. According to local media, the house owner did not agree with government's compensation plan for relocation and refused to move out
5/8 Nail houses in China
A six-floor villa is viewed on the construction site in the central business district of Shenzhen. Choi Chu Cheung, the owner of the villa, and his wife Zhang Lian-hao, refused to accept the compensation offered by the developer who plans to build a financial centre on the site. The couple are demanding that the developer compensate them with property similar in size or raise the offer from 6,500 yuan ($840) to 18,000 yuan ($2,327) per square metre
6/8 Nail houses in China
A 'nail house', the last house in this area, stands in the centre of a construction site which will be developed as a new apartment zone in Chongqing Municipality. The owners of the house insist in seeking more compensation before agreeing to the demolition of their home, local media reported
7/8 Nail houses in China
A view of where 75-year-old Yao Baohua's house (C) still stands in the rubble of a vast development site in the city of Changzhou in China's eastern Jiangsu province. The Yao home is the last one standing in the rubble of a vast development site in Changzhou, a Chinese 'nail house', the moniker earned for both their physical appearance and their owners' stubborn resistance
8/8 Nail houses in China
Chinese authorities carry sticks as they stand guard while workers demolish houses which are claimed illegal by the local government in Wuhan, central China's Hubei province. Land seizures have been a problem for years in China, and have given rise to the term 'nail house' to describe a holdout tenant or occupant, likening them to a nail refusing to be hammered down, and violent resistance has been reported in numerous cases as ordinary people take matters into their own hands to resist eviction they deem unfair
One of the most famous cases was in 2007, when restaurant owner Wu Ping’s home in Chongqing became an island raised up in the middle of a large building site.
She became something of a celebrity, the Times reported, with crowds gathering to watch her enter her almost impossible to reach home. Ms Wu eventually settled her case with developers – but before then she was hailed as a rare symbol. One observer said: “Ordinary people don’t dare fight with the developers. They’re too strong.”Reuse content