Does China have evictions?

Does China have evictions?


A few years ago, my grandma, was dragged out of her house on a cold winter morning by a local gang. Moments later, the conspired village government ordered bulldozers to smash everything to rubble, and committed what’s called a “forced eviction.” 

My grandma is a hard-working, law-abiding farmer.

I’d heard some words about evictions before, but never thought it’d happen to my family. We first sought help from the police and city officials; both turned a blind eye on us. I contacted local newspapers, state TV in hope of exposing the story. No media would even touch us. From then on, I realized, the only way for us to become helped is to help ourselves. I stayed up reading similar cases I found online, and printed relevant papers and law. The next day, I told my grandma the “radical” idea that we had to file a lawsuit against the village government. 

As I became involved, I soon realized how common forced evictions are in my town. I found many more villages demolished without consent, villagers’ livelihood raided, left with nothing to start anew. Most evicted are illiterate farmers, who know nothing about the law or how to protect themselves. After having their asses kicked by the police at sit-ins, most give up their fights, seeing no alternative. 

I began helping the other evicted from my grandma’s village. I convinced more families to take legal action after sharing our experiences. Furthermore, I helped vet lawyers, build cases, collect evidence. Lastly, I never turn down requests to voice people’s losses into pleading letters addressed to Beijing. They never proved to work, but I’ve realized, the hope the letters carry is equally important. Over the years, I maintain contact with the group when I’m away, run around town in between agencies when I’m home. I rally groups across different villages. More families sue and win. I’ve written many articles, hoping to bring this issue to the forefront of discussion, but like my family before the hit, most people remain indifferent.

Map showing the territorial claims of the PRC.

For us affected, a village government that colludes with virtually everything is too big to take down. Because of the lawsuits, my parents are harassed at work; my grandma’s dog died mysteriously of poison; I receive threat letters. Even after we win in court, justice is hard to claim, since the village government pays little respect to the court, who also has little interest to enforce. Our lawsuits become passed as balls from one bureaucracy to another. I’ve grown more cynical toward this corrupt system rotten to its marrow. I find myself constantly caught in between how much I want to do and how little I am able to achieve. 

But I always try to find lights for hope.

I was once in Latvia for school. On my way to an afternoon lecture, I gave my seat to an old man on a crowded bus. He said, “spasibo, spasibo.”

I was surprised: he’d uttered those words so naturally that it was evident Russian’s his native and only language. However, also a language rejected by Latvia by law. Moreover, I wondered about his life, every day, struggling to make sense of every word that surrounds him, from bus stops to grocery tags. I imagined the powerlessness and isolation he had felt, which reminded me of my folks back home. 

“Cold for July, isn’t it?” and I asked about his day. Despite my child-like Russian, we managed to chat briefly. Before getting off, he thanked me again with a warming smile. 

I hoped he’d received some warmth that day, some camaraderie from a stranger. Moments like those remind me that, however small, goodness vested in people still matters. And I understand ever more firmly that any doubt I have must become trumped by persevering optimism. I need to carry families through despair to continue the appeals. I need to call out injustice otherwise taken for granted. Such is my faith in action, my mission of hope. 

Does China have evictions?