The nailhouse – how to spread a word in China

The “Nailhouse” has achieved some fame in the Chinese blogsphere. At first, it seemed like an ordinary situation in present-day China: A redeveloped area was supposed to be built in Chongqing, the world’s largest city. To get the ground ready for construction, the homeowners should be compensated and moved to other places. This is one reason, why the Hutongs (small streets) slowly vanish from many places (except where they can be used for touristic proposes like south of Tian’anmen).

In Chongqing happened something unexpected: After one homeowner disagreed with the compensation arguing it could not buy her an equivalent place, the house was the only that was left untouched on the construction site. This awkward situation was made public through some blogs, spreading the story and adding pictures. The house owner herself eventually created a blog, that was viewed more several hundred thousand times.

Later on, to my surprise also state owned newspaper were running stories on the topic and foreign media picked up the topic. There was considerably few censorship although the homeowner’s blog had been suppressed for some time. I think the case of the Nailhouse was especially watched from foreign countries because it’s one of the first times that a possibly political sensitive topic got that much attention from China’s bloggers. Just a few weeks ago the National People’s Congress had decided to change the property right. The development of “independent citizen reporters” that are local residents contributing to blogs might somehow be dangerous to the monopoly of the state owned media, because it is hard to control the fast spread of news that do not originate from an approved news agency.

I myself have to cope with the censorship of websites in China, as well. My blog is not available from mainland China, so I cannot directly add new entries, without some technical knowledge a Chinese won’t be able to read my posts.

PS: The Nailhouse was finally torn down after the developer reached consensus with the homeowner.


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