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Villagers in Guangzhou marooned on ‘island’ by moat as developers get tough on eviction

Posted: 02/12/2013 9:00 am

A handful of residents in Yangji village in Guangzhou are putting up a valiant fight in a stand-off between them and piranha-like property developers.

Six families are refusing to surrender until they get a better compensation deal but time seems to be running out with builders using new tactics to get on with their job.

A moat has been dug around the remaining homes – up to 6 feet in some places – in the latest move to flush people out. Builders are reported to be using other methods, such as cutting off electricity and water supplies, to make living conditions unbearable.

These scenes are all too common across China. It’s an unfortunate situation created by the city outgrowing itself many times over.

Guangzhou’s long history and status as a major trading hub makes it ripe for redevelopment. However, in this instance and many others, the financial settlement is not meeting the needs of villagers looking to remain in the area.

Then (2010)…

… Now (2013)

The village is said to be 900 years old, much older than the three-year-old battle that has been raging right in the heart of the city.

Here the Telegraph reports on the current situation as told by one villager:

A villager named Mr Qin, who has refused to leave his home, said the moats were just one tactic “hostile” former neighbours had used to render the community uninhabitable.

Since last November, Yangji’s electricity and water supplies have been repeatedly sabotaged, he claimed.

At least one villager, named as Li Jianming, was also beaten up. “The corner of his mouth, his teeth, and arms were covered with blood [and] his lips were split,” Xinhua reported.

More than 12 million people call Guangzhou home, but with land and property in “severe shortage“, urban villages are falling by the wayside to better utilise the city space. Yangji village is one of 138 being overhauled. Over 600,000 people have been uprooted so far.

In a series of images posted on NBC News, the battle is too much for one resident. Take a look for yourself:

(Photos: NBC News/AFP/Getty/ReutersDaily Mail/RexChina Daily)

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