For the Government, its bid for the 2008 Olympics is a statement of national prestige and proof of 20 years of economic success. But Song Zaimin, 37, has no reason to cheer because it has left his life in tatters. For seven years, he ran a 20-room restaurant in Pinggu county, north of Beijing. That was demolished last April, in the name of the Olympic bid, and he has not been compensated. He, his wife and 11-year-old daughter are now reduced to living in three tents close to the site. They have no water or electricity and share their home with rats, frogs and snakes. They survive on 400 yuan (HK$376) a month, which his wife earns. 'If there was no Olympic bid, I would still be operating my restaurant,' he said. 'In my county alone, 500 to 700 homes, shops and restaurants have been demolished in the name of the bid and about the same number will be knocked down in the future. Some get compensation, some do not and it is arbitrarily decided by local leaders.' Mr Song built his restaurant on 500 square metres of land which belonged to the local Pinganjie village, for which he paid an annual rent of 1,000 yuan. He borrowed 70,000 yuan from friends and family to pay for the expansion. In February last year, the state took over the land - which it is entitled to do. He claims an unlicensed demolition firm forced him off the site and knocked down the restaurant. The land was then given to a local construction company, he said, owned by the son-in-law of the county official in charge of engineering quality. 'This was illegal because there was no open tender and no bidding,' he claimed. The new owner is building a three-storey office and apartment block on the site but Mr Song is trying to block construction with his sit-in. The county government said his restaurant did not have planning permission. 'There is no question of compensation,' said a spokesman. 'Instead, we should fine him. We must improve the environment of the county, with better roads and urban planning.' Pinggu is a poor, hilly county about 80km from the site of the proposed Olympic Village. Local officials said demolition of the properties was necessary to beautify the area and make it more attractive to foreign visitors. Critics say the Olympic bid has become a slogan used by officials to justify demolition for projects that have no connection with the Games, enabling them to get rich by controlling land sales and redevelopment contracts. Mr Song said he and 100 others who had had their homes or businesses demolished demonstrated in December in front of the Beijing party committee, Zhongnanhai, the home of the central government leaders and at the petition office of the State Council - all to no avail. He has been arrested several times. He has tried to get his case heard in courts in Pinggu and Beijing and he has sent letters to Communist Party chief Jiang Zemin, Premier Zhu Rongji and Beijing Mayor Liu Qi. He plans to appeal to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan. 'An official of the Beijing bid committee said to me, 'What is this nonsense? Putting on the Olympics is a major national project. Consider your 20 rooms as a contribution towards it'.'