- Title: CHINA: A Beijing household resists an Olympic makeover
- Date: 20th June 2008
- Summary: VARIOUS OF PEOPLE WATCHING
- Embargoed: 5th July 2008 13:00
- Location: China
- Country: China
- Topics: Sports
- Reuters ID: LVA8ZI97HZA435JRZUAIZU2TT2QF
- Story Text: One Beijing family defiantly fights the authorities attempts to spruce up their street, saying the Olympics has left them with nowhere to go.
Beijing's streets are turning green. Buildings believed to present an unacceptable image of Beijing are disappearing in the clean-up effort.
On a street leading to the Forbidden City, one family is fighting their own battle against the Olympic facelift. The government wants to landscape the road and turn it into a broad green avenue.
The Yu family's shop was once part of a row of shops that lined the street. The rest have been convinced to move out to clear the way for a landscaped green lawn stretching along the road until it reaches the Yu's house.
Yu Pingju was born in the city and has run the shop for decades-- it sits around the corner from former leader Deng Xiaoping's house and his daughter occasionally buys snacks from her counter.
The plight of the Yu family is the latest in a string of disputes between developers and residents that illustrates just one of the tensions wrought by China's rapid modernisation.
"We are extremely worried. We don't eat and we don't sleep. We're physically and mentally exhausted. But what can we do? This is our home,"
The Yus were warned that if they did not leave by June 26, they would be forcibly evicted. They say the local authorities have yet to show them a permit.
And their extended family of 14, who range in age from 4 to 71, don't know where else to go.
The family have posted complaint notices on the corrugated iron fence now set up against their house, announcing their defiance and intention to stay.
The Yu family know they are fighting a losing battle, but they are putting their faith in the spirit of the pictures that decorate their shop -- Mao Zedong, Deng, Wen and several Buddhist deities -- to come to their rescue.
Like many in China who do battle with authorities, the Yus blame local officials, who they say destroyed a chunk of their house in March. They hope in the power of the central government, particularly populist Premier Wen.
"The country and the home are equally important, we should take good care of both of them. But you can not wave the Olympic flag in order to infringe on private property rights because now there are property laws and a constitution to protect us. This is very important. The central government and Beijing government are very good but some local officials, not all of them, do not share the same standards," she said.
Chinese media have seized on stand-offs between developers and so-called "nail houses", whose owners have held their ground, some becoming heroes feted for their plucky stance against unfeeling corporations or local governments.
But as the Olympics approach, such hold-outs are treading sensitive ground.
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