nail houses    By 2013, 70% of the population of China will live in cities. That’s quite a challenge. City growth is going to be one of the problems to face up to over the coming years: the urgent need for town planning and building new housing. Cities will need new plots of land as they expand. Normally large companies and governments
don’t have any difficulty buying those plots from their owners or, simple, taking them away from them. But there are points of resistance: people who don’t accept deals or indemnity in exchange for their land or houses.

Those points of resistance are called Dingzi hù. Nail houses. Nail houses became famous in 2007 when the couple Wu Ping and Yang Wu, inhabitants of Chongquing city (a megalopolis with 29 million inhabitants in southwest China) fought to save their house for three years. When they knocked their house down to build a shopping centre, Ping and Wu spent three years in the 18-metre deep hole where the house had been until they got the
deal they wanted.

Nail houses owe their name to the dangerous nails which stick out in the buildings. Not all nail house owners have reached the peaceful conclusion which Ping and Wu did. The Chinese government (like governments all over the world) has used all sorts of weapons against those energetic inhabitants. But there are still cases of nail houses’ resistance and dignity.