A man sets fire to himself on the roof of his home in order to prevent its forced demolition. Film taken at 9.am local time, October 30, Mishan, Heilongjiang Province. This triggers a fight between the man’s family and the cops, in which the family temporarily prevail, at least as far as I can see, after a confused but vigorous interlude of rock throwing and savage beating. “Nail house” protests are nothing new, of course. I’m not sure whether there are more of these cases around these days or whether the trend to protest by self immolation has given an ongoing issue new momentum and visibility. It may be that some cases like these are a by product of China’s economic stimulus package, which took a kind of foie gras approach to development, mandating local banks to lend to local authorities for projects which said local authorities had to think up to meet growth targets. Another factor may be the growth of a well connected “real estate lobby” of developers and officials.
Via Roland, who reports on a similar (but non-flammable) nailhouse case in Yunnan, this time with a happier ending after opinion in the Sinosphere mobilized in favour of the family affected.