Tag Archives | China

A Chinese Analogue to the Kelo Case?

This recent Chinese case has attracted a lot of attention in both China and the West, and is drawing comparisons to the famous US takings case of of Kelo v. City of New London. The Huffington Post describes the facts as follows:

In the middle of an eastern Chinese city’s new main road, rising incongruously from a huge circle in the freshly laid pavement, is a five-story row house with ragged edges. This is the home of the duck farmer who said “no.”

Luo Baogen and his wife are the lone holdouts from a neighborhood that was demolished to make way for the main thoroughfare heading to a newly built railway station on the outskirts of the city of Wenling in Zhejiang province.

Dramatic images of Luo’s home have circulated widely online in China this week, becoming the latest symbol of resistance in the frequent standoffs between Chinese homeowners and local officials accused of offering too little compensation to vacate neighborhoods for major redevelopment projects.

There’s even a name for the buildings that remain standing as their owners resist development. They are called “nail houses” because the homeowners refuse to be hammered down….

Xiayangzhang village chief Chen Xuecai said in a telephone interview Friday that city planners decided that Luo’s village of 1,600 had to be moved for a new business district anchored by the train station. Chen said most families agreed to government-offered compensation in 2007.

Luo, 67, and a handful of neighbors in other parts of the new district are holding out for more.

“We want a new house on a two-unit lot with simple interior decoration,” Luo told local reporters Thursday in video footage forwarded to The Associated Press.

Luo had just completed his house at a cost of about 600,000 yuan ($95,000) when the government

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David Boaz on Avatar as a Defense of Property Rights

In a recent LA Times op ed, David Boaz of the Cato Institute joins economist David Henderson in interpreting the blockbuster film Avatar as a defense of property rights:

Conservatives have been very critical of the Golden Globe-winning film “Avatar” for its mystical melange of trite leftist themes. But what they have missed is that the essential conflict in the story is a battle over property rights….

But conservative critics are missing the conflict at the heart of the movie. It’s quite possible that [director] Cameron missed it too.

The earthlings have come to Pandora to obtain unobtainium. In theory, it’s not a military mission, it’s just the RDA Corp. with a military bigger than most countries. The Na’vi call them the Sky People.

To get the unobtainium, RDA is willing to relocate the natives, who live on top of the richest deposit. But alas, that land is sacred to the Na’vi, who worship the goddess Eywa, so they’re not moving. When the visitors realize that, they move in with tanks, bulldozers and giant military robots, laying waste to a sacred tree and any Na’vi who don’t move fast enough.

Conservatives see this as anti-American, anti-military and anti-corporate or anti-capitalist. But they’re just reacting to the leftist ethos of the film.

They fail to see what’s really happening. People have traveled to Pandora to take something that belongs to the Na’vi: their land and the minerals under it. That’s a stark violation of property rights, the foundation of the free market and indeed of civilization.

See also David’s follow-up post here.

As I explained in this post, I’m skeptical that this message was either intended by the filmmakers or perceived by most American viewers. On the other hand, in the same post I also noted that that [...]

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Avatar and Property Rights in China

Most commentators have interpreted the movie Avatar as having an anti-capitalist message. Libertarian economist David Henderson, however, claims that it is actually a defense of property rights. Though I must reserve judgement until I see the movie, I am skeptical that Henderson’s interpretation is either the message intended by the producers or the one most American viewers come away with. However, it’s interesting that Henderson’s interpretation is exactly how the film was perceived by many in China, where the government has forcibly expelled millions from their homes in recent years, in order to make way for various development projects [HT: one of Henderson's commenters here]:

BEIJING: The bull-dozers await at the gates. An evil corporation sends its guards, using every possible threat to move the residents from their land. But all resistance is futile. The people watch in horror, as their homes get torn down to rubble and they are forced to relocate.

This is a not-so-unfamiliar storyline in China where forced land acquisitions by influential real estate companies are rarely away from the headlines. Here, home demolitions are arguably the most controversial of social issues, and widely regarded as the biggest cause of social unrest.

This also happens to be the plotline of James Cameron’s epic blockbuster film ‘Avatar,’ which opened in China last week and has seemingly taken the country by storm.

A week on after its January 4 release, the show is set to break all records at the Chinese box-office….

[M]any film critics and bloggers have also been struck by the close resonance the film’s plotline has had for many cinema-goers here.

“China’s demolition crews must go sue Old [James] Cameron, sue him for piracy/copyright infringement!,” one blogger wrote at the website Tianya.com.

At least a dozen movie-goers The Hindu interviewed after one

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