Eminent Domain-Related Violence in China

The Los Angeles Times reports that a Zhaotang woman set off a suicide bomb, killing herself and two “low level  community officials” who came to her home to sign an agreement concerning the compulsory acquisition of her home. Barbara Demick, Distraught Homeowner Kills 2 in China Bombing, L.A. Times, May 11, 2012, at p. A8 — click here.

There are two items in that story that warrant notice. First, with specific regard to these events, they precipitated “a surprising degree of support on China’s social media.” Which sends a message that messing with people’s turf can be hazardous to your health, and that when a taking of private property is truly necessary, it should be accompanied by procedural safeguards and a modicum of sensitivity to the feelings of the displaced condemnees. Second, in tems of hard news that rarely make it into print over here, it turns out that tucked away at the end of this news story is the dispatch that “Demolition cases in China often devolve into violent face-offs between residents and local officials. Self-immolations are common.”

And it isn’t just self-immolations. “In May 2011, a disgruntled farmer in the southeastern city of Fuzhou detonated three homemade bombs near a local government office, killing two people and injuring six.”

It’s a tribute to the law abiding nature of American property owners that these things don’t happen here. But we worry about that when we reflect on incidents of violence triggered by eminent domain takings elsewhere.

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