China's penchant to force its people to move is the number one single cause of social unrest in the country.
Now, a Beijing-based writer and academic has given an inside perspective of why forced evictions and relocation are so controversial, even when property owners are given compensation. In a letter to the Chinese president and premier, published in English by the Index on Censorship, writer Yan Lianke lays out what happened when the government decided to knock down his apartment building. Yan, who describes himself as a patriotic citizen willing to make sacrifices for China, chronicles his struggle to get answers about why the apartment he bought is being demolish and how the compensation is determined. He is told, in effect, that it's none of his business and he just needs to move and accept whatever the local government offers him.
"In short, all I wanted to see was that the demolition process would more or less follow government regulations and legal procedures and that property owners would be provided with some information," writes Yan. "The response I received was along the lines of 'everything has already been decided by higher authorities' and 'it’s confidential.'"
The piece is a must-read for understanding how government pressure and development work in China, and why forced evictions are at the root of so many protests and general discontent.