Shanghai Court Sentences Two to Death for Violent Evictions

August 29, 2005

A Shanghai court has sentenced two employees of a demolition and relocation company to death with a two-year reprieve for setting fires to intimidate local residents, according to a China Daily article. A third employee was sentenced to life in prison. Wang Changkun, Yang Sunqin, and Lu Peide of the Shanghai Urban Development Housing Relocation Co. set the blazes in early January in an effort to intimidate recalcitrant residents into moving out of a development zone, killing two people. The neighborhood has reportedly experienced a series of twelve fires since 2004. The case illustrates the often close connections between local government and developers and demolition units. A state-owned enterprise owns a 50 percent stake in the demolition and relocation company.

Chinese leaders have issued numerous regulations and circulars prohibiting developers and demolitions companies from using violence, intimidation, and other abusive tactics when relocating farmers and urban residents to make way for new developments (for one example, click here). Reports of such practices continue to emerge from China, however, and they sometimes spark violent confrontations. In June, for example, several hundred men armed with guns and clubs engaged in a pitched battle with farmers who refused to vacate their land to make way for a state-owned power plant in Shengyou, Hebei province, killing six and wounding more than 100.