In 2004 some developers planned a shopping complex in the Chinese municipality of Chongqing. As per normal they bought the land and swiftly evicted the 280 home owners, however they met resistance in the form of Wu Ping and her husband, Yang Wu. The ever calm 49-year-old Wu Ping and supporting Yang Wu decided to not leave. Instead they settled down in their two-storey brick house while the land around them was scraped clean.
The developers were impatient and even began to excavate the land around the house; still, Wu Ping and Yang Wu stayed in their house. While the ground fell away from around their humble abode the developers apparently threatened the pair by sending up thugs, presumably thugs of the threatening kind. The oddity of the case and the bravado displayed meant news of the case spread far and wide. The image of a single house on a column of earth became synonymous with the struggle between citizens and property developers in an aggressively modernising China. As Wu Ping said:
“I’m not stubborn or unruly, I’m just trying to protect my personal rights as a citizen.”
Fortunately Wu Ping’s husband was more than able to help. Being a martial arts champion he threatened to beat up any authorities approaching the house. He also happened to be a practical and fairly determined individual. For simpler access to the house he cut stairs winding up the 10 muddy metres to the house. How? With the violent and thorough application of his personal nunchuks to the soft earth.
After the completion of the nunchuk stairs he placed a Chinese flag on the roof to stake out his case as a case for all the people of China. The electricity and water were cut but the pair did not give in, still perfectly happy with their moral, and physical high ground. Yang Wu protected the building while Wu Ping conducted interviews and the like. To send supplies to Yang a system of ropes and pulleys was implemented, it carried up things such as food, water and blankets.
Compensation offers were made but the couple declined. Their demands were called “unreasonable” and the housing authority ordered that the house be demolished. In the face of 85% public support for the continued existence of the house, the courts refused to enforce the demolition order.
Three years into the dispute came the high spirits. China passed a landmark law which would protect private property. The couple, now satisfied that their steep demands had been met accepted an apartment of similar size nearby.
“Let’s hope the new law reduces such disputes,” political scientist Zhao Wanyi told China Daily.