The government forcibly demolishes residences and farms under the pretext of “restoring arable land,” destroying people’s lives, forcing them into poverty.
by Li Changshan
Following government policies encouraging the development of rural economy, farmers across China have invested in greenhouses for fruits and vegetables or farms for breeding animals. However, starting this year, the authorities began demolishing legally-built plant nurseries, greenhouses, and breeding farms under the pretext of “restoring arable land” on which they stand. This uniformly imposed policy has caused many people to incur massive financial losses or even go bankrupt. Some farmers recounted to Bitter Winter their ordeals.
Thousands of nurseries forcibly demolished
On January 19, more than 60 law enforcement officers and hired workers launched the demolition of greenhouses on Chunlei Farm in Sa’ertu district of Daqing city in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang. Some farmers attempted to stop the forced destruction but were beaten by the officers. Soon after, excavators razed to the ground the nurseries and greenhouses that cost hundreds of thousands of RMB to build.
Video: Law enforcement officers beat farmers on the scene of the forced demolition in Sa’ertu district of Daqing city.
This notice left the farmers completely baffled. “Originally, this wasn’t farmland,” local farmers explained to Bitter Winter. “The area was overgrown with weeds before the greenhouses were built. It was like a swamp. Farmers bought soil and fertilizer themselves for the greenhouses. In the beginning, government departments solicited investments and encouraged farmers to build nurseries and greenhouses. Our contracts clearly state that there is a 30-year validity period. We’ve only been operating for 13 years now. How can they say that our operations are illegal?”
In reply to the farmers’ questions, officials claimed that the state wants to demolish all greenhouses that occupy basic farmland and restore the growing of crops because “China and the United States are engaged in a trade war now, and not enough grain is being imported.”
The sudden policy change has caused these farmers to suffer heavy losses. Some of them decided to defend their rights and interests, but no lawyer dared to take their cases. With no other choice, the farmers went to Beijing to petition three times. Not only did they not receive any explanation, but the farmer who organized the petition trips was detained. He was released only after the authorities forced him to promise to “not organize petitions anymore.”
Apart from Heilongjiang, from January to March, about 3,000 nurseries in Saihan district of Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, and Yuhong district of Shenyang city in the northeastern province of Liaoning were demolished to varying degrees. Each farmer incurred substantial financial loses.
Video: Farmers’ nurseries in Yuhong district of Shenyang city have been forcibly demolished.
“Whether you live or die, it must be demolished!”
Meanwhile, pig farms in Dengfeng city in the central province of Henan were forcibly demolished on the grounds that they “occupied farmland.” According to local farmers, on March 27, the party secretary of Xuzhuang town under the jurisdiction of Dengfeng city, accompanied by sixty to seventy police officers, brought three large excavators to demolish a pig farm. The owner of the farm demanded to see some documents, based on which the demolition is being implemented, but the official refused.
Video: A pig farm was demolished in Xuzhuang town.
According to local villagers, the pig farm was the largest of its kind in the town, occupying an area of over 0.7 acres. When it was built, the pig farm received support from the government. It also obtained all relevant documents for breeding.
“In the past, the government called on people to engage in farming and breeding. Now, they are disregarding people’s fates and carrying out demolitions on a whim,” villagers spoke out on behalf of the victim. “What kind of policy is this? The family of this farmer still owes more than 1.6 million RMB [about $ 225,440]. How are they supposed to live?”
A week before the demolition of the pig farm in Xuzhuang town, another one was destroyed in Gaocheng town under the jurisdiction of Dengfeng city. Up to six pigs on the farm were crushed to death in the process.
Video: A pig farm is being demolished in Gaocheng town.
According to incomplete statistics, from March to April, at least 40 breeding farms within the jurisdiction of Dengfeng city were forcibly demolished. The government’s violent behavior has provoked discontent among residents. On March 24, one of the victims of this new policy from Xuanhua town under the jurisdiction of Dengfeng posted a comment online: “It shouldn’t exist in name only that the interests of the people are above all else. The people’s appeal should be understood. The town government’s current behavior disregards people’s interests and treats their interests as insignificant.”