In Rural China, Villagers Say They're Forced From Farm Homes To High-Rises

After quickly building megacities, the country is kicking plans into high gear to revamp tens of thousands of country villages. Residents say they are forced or coerced to leave their farm homes.

A farmer from Shandong province along China’s east coast, Liu recalls how during Chinese Lunar New Year in January, he went out for a walk and came home to discover local officials preparing to demolish his home.

When he called the police on the demolishers, they arrested him instead, saying that the police would “assist the work of the local government.”

“To demolish my home, about 100 security officers surrounded and subdued me, and detained me,” Liu said on a recent visit to his village, Liushuanglou, near the city of Heze. He was released from detention the next day.

Like most of the more than three dozen Shandong residents NPR interviewed, Liu requested only his family name be used because he fears being physically threatened again by the authorities.

After building some of the world’s largest cities, erecting entire districts of gleaming high rises in the span of a few years, China is now kicking plans into high gear to overhaul tens of thousands of its rural villages.

But Liu and other residents allege that the authorities are coercing them into signing away their older, much larger farm homes, demolishing them by force if necessary and not adequately compensating residents for their homes. The residents say the new, smaller houses or high-rise apartments they are being moved into are either too far from their fields, too expensive or ill-suited for their needs as farmers. [ … ]

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