Chinese man takes forced eviction case to President Hu
- 19 January 2011
- From the section Asia-Pacific
As Chinese President Hu Jintao arrived at the White House on his state visit to the US, Wang Yongli stood outside on the street amongst the hundreds of activists there to decry China's human rights abuses.
Mr Wang, who is from southern China's Guangdong province, wants to petition Mr Hu over the forced demolition of his house.
"I am here to complain about my case. I have a grievance... This is my last resort; I didn't want to take this step, but the local government won't deal with it," he told BBC Chinese Service reporter Alan Nie in Washington.
He was visiting his son in the US when the bulldozers arrived outside his home in China in the early hours, while his wife, mother and his mother-in-law were inside, he says.
"They handcuffed them, and flattened our house, just like that."
Mr Wang says the impact on his family has been devastating; his wife is in hospital and his mother committed suicide.
"I am a Chinese citizen; this is a small matter, we are ordinary citizens, nobody cares about us.
"I can't even go back to my country, my home, so where can I go? Hu Jintao coming to the USA is my best opportunity," he says.
Forced evictions are one of the most common causes of unrest in China, often sparking violent clashes and revenge attacks.
Some aggrieved homeowners have even set themselves on fire in protest, including a 92-year-old man.
The government technically owns the land in China.
Land sales by local authorities have shot up by 70% in the past year, according to official figures.
As China's economy develops and urbanisation gathers pace, there's a growing tendency to knock down homes for new housing projects, factories or other businesses, says the BBC's China editor Shirong Chen.
There have long been calls for new legislation to safeguard the rights of property owners.
As Mr Wang made his protest in Washington, Beijing announced it had approved new rules promising fair prices to homeowners losing their property and an end to forced demolitions without legal approval.
The long-delayed new regulations were passed by the State Council, China's cabinet.
Under the new plans, developers are banned from any involvement in relocation process.
The local government must instead get the court to enforce removal if owners refuse to move by the deadline.
But the changes come too late for Mr Wang.
"I can't go back to China now; I can't go back home now."