Defiant villager leaves developers stumped over gravesite
A villager refusing to concede to a property developer’s demands to move a family gravesite off a piece of land left construction workers no choice but to dig around the grave, leaving behind a bizarre sight that has since spread on social media.
The solitary grave, which now sits on a mound of earth 10 metres off the ground in the middle of a construction site in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, has been given the term "nail grave" by netizens.
The term is a play on "nail house", which was coined by developers for homes belonging to people – “stubborn as nails” – who refused to move even after being offered compensation.
Media reports speculate that developers had offered to pay about one million yuan (US$160,400) to move the grave and headstone.
The construction site, which once served as a public graveyard for local villagers, is giving way to a residential complex expected to be completed in April.
Since construction started in 2009, most villagers had already moved their family’s graves after compensation agreements with the developer.
In the face of China’s rapid economic development, Chinese property developers have been meeting much greater public resistance to what many see as forced land-grabs. Most are compensated with amounts less than their property’s net worth.
“Nail graves are an inevitable product of our country’s progress…the souls of the dead can not rest in peace,” wrote one blogger on Sina Weibo, China’s main microblogging site.
Although China has long encouraged cremation due to an alleged shortage of land for burials, ancestors are traditionally held in deep respect and many in the countryside continue to construct tombs in accordance with culture.
A similar incident occurred last month when authorities from the city of Zhoukou, Henan province, were forced to stop a campaign to clear graves for farmland after the demolition of more than two million tombs sparked an outcry across the country.
In a similar story that went viral recently, Chinese authorities demolished a five-story nail house just last week after it got in the way of a new expressway.