Property rights: the coolest nail house in history

Property rights: the coolest nail house in history

Home sweet home
Dingzihu (钉子户) is a Chinese word that means a household or person who refuses to vacate their home to make way for real estate development. Virtual China translates the word as 'nail house' because "they stick out like nails in an otherwise modernized environment".

Last week Ananova published a story about a very persistent nail house (pictured):

Developers have turned a house into an island in China after the owner refused to move out. The villa now stands alone in a 30ft deep man-made pit in Chongqing city, reports Jinbao Daily.

The Chongqing Zhengsheng Real Estate Company wants to turn the area into a £40m 'Broadway' square, including apartments and a shopping mall...

... "The villa owner refuses to move, so the real-estate developer has had to dig out all around it to force him to," says a saleswoman at Weilian Real Estate Sales Company. "He wants 20 million yuan, or he'll stay till the end of the world."

A photograph of the house in question has been circulating on the Chinese Internet during the last few days. It's posted on the popular Tianya forum: The coolest nail house in history. The post is accompanied by a short description, roughly translated below:

At the beginning of March, a photo called "the coolest nail house in history" stirred up a lot of debate. Within the space of a few days, this photo was widely circulated and posted all over the Internet, and a lot of media as well as the general populace were interested in the affair.

This happened at the same time as the Property Law [was being discussed at the NPC], so people were even more curious about it. The final fate of "the coolest nail house in history" will be a famous monument to the progress of the Property Law.

The Tianya post has hundreds of comments representing many different points of view about the Property Law, the evils of state- and privately-owned real estate development, and the the rights of tenants.

The online chatter about property rights makes for an interesting contrast with recent discussion of property rights in the traditional media, for example this story excerpted from The Wall Street Journal:

China Magazine Is Pulled As Property Law Looms

A landmark proposal to protect private property was formally introduced into China's legislature amid continuing controversy, and in one possible sign of the legislation's sensitivity, the latest issue of an influential Chinese business magazine that covered it was pulled earlier this week.

It wasn't immediately clear who blocked the issue of Caijing -- a move that came during one of the busiest periods in China's political calendar -- or why. But according to a person familiar with the situation, the issue included articles, among others, on the bankruptcy of a government-controlled brokerage firm and on the piece of property-rights legislation, which has drawn vocal criticism.

from peering into interior.jpeg
Image of Wu Ping on CCTV from Peering Into the Interior
UPDATE: The promising new blog Peering into the Interior has a translation of an interview with the owner of the nail house, Ms Wu Ping: Interview with China's Most Incredible Holdout. Excerpt:

Among the residents moving, I am the largest private property owner, furthermore you can basically say I am the only one who has complete papers, such as a property rights land right certificates, they both clearly indicated that it is a building zoned for business. At that time I had just finished renovations, and they (the developer) said they had to tear everything down and people had to be relocated, as a result this was really damaging for us. According to my property right certificate, I am clearly in ownership of 219 square meters, so for this use it should be returned to me.
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There are currently 13 Comments for Property rights: the coolest nail house in history.

Comments on Property rights: the coolest nail house in history

I think the contrast described by this post is a good example of the anti-China bias of western media. At least for some topics in China, there are actually debates even more vibrant than the western counterpart. However, typical western perspective almost ubiquitously focuses on the traditional, "evil-commie" style stories. I guess it shouldn't be surprising coming from the Wall Street Journal.

I had just assumed the photo was some kind of hoax/photoshop creation.

Actually, I was the first to pick up on this and then it was pigned over to My post was on

I have just translated a full interview with the homeowner Mrs. Wuping. link.

I can't wait until Google Earth gets its latest batch of satellite photos so I can see this thing from space.

"Virtual China translates the word as 'nail house' because 'they stick out like nails in an otherwise modernized environment'"

They don't actually give that as the reason behind the term.

My book of Chinese slang translates dingzihu as "nailed down house" because they are hard to remove.

I asked a journalist and he said they call them that because they are like the last few rusty nails that are difficult to pull out.

He did, however, agree that the house was way cool.


What's that?

The new generation of nails houses.

Sticking it to the man.

I'm dem Gz on tha (Beijing) blocks, flying supplied sheets.

The 2008 game of evading the interpol, I fly from east coast of the pacific to tha west,

Fly by wire, fly by wire.

It's subversion, and I sure ain't whispering no doses on no lot.

I got a blue red white passport I hope you got yours.

Am I the one?

The Danwei resident troll?

The becoming?


EDITOR'S NOTE (JG) Hello, very nice hop hop poem and all and thanks for your thoughts, but Danwei uses standard English. Further comments written in this style will not be published.

In the NY Times:


The whole world is aware of this. George needs a lesson taught to him about Beijing opening its mouth about "promised rights". Everyone in Chongqing knows about this new property law and they are waiting to see what Beijing's response will be.

Protect the house and local officials with their developer cronies will howl and undermine Beijing's local authority. If Beijing lets the house get torn down, everyone will know that the new property law is only to protect wealthy individuals and developers...the other 1.3 billion Chinese will know how bad Beijing and China's wealthy really are.

If the owner gets the compensation she demands, everyone will have a "nail house".

RFA has an interview with the managing editor of Caijing about the pulled article.

I'm chinese, the word "dingzihu" is not a "nailed down house", the true meaning of "dingzihu" is a family which is insurmountability and is hard to be persuaded. "Dingzi" in English is a Nail, means hard to be persuaded, "hu" in English ia a family. "dingzihu" is a pedagogue to a family used by some officeholder in Chinese. In this story, the owners of house refuse to move. So they be called as "dingzihu" by Chongqing government. Someone takes "dingzihu" only as a form of address of this house owners, this is a mistake. It's only a very occasional coincidence that the "Dingzihu"'s house like a nail stick on the building site.

The house was demolished this night, says Xinhua

This house will most certainly be run over by a tank. End of story.

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