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Old December 25th, 2010, 05:24 PM   #421
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Villagers can't delay move any longer, official says
25 November 2010
South China Morning Post

Eviction of villagers blocking a work site for the new cross-border express rail line had been done in a humane, effective and transparent way, the secretary for transport and housing said yesterday - sparking a sceptical response from a legislator who questioned her on the removals.

Eva Cheng said the clearance of Choi Yuen Tsuen was being done in phases to accommodate the needs of the villagers, some of whom are vowing to fight for their homes with their lives.

Answering a question from lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung, Cheng said the resumption of the village land could not be delayed any longer.

"The construction involves changing the river channel, and hence has to begin during the dry season," she told lawmakers. "We have been flexible in evacuating the houses - claiming the land of the settled houses first to allow more time for the reluctant homeowners to consider the compensation package offered by the government."

Leung was given approval under a section of the Legco rules of procedure, which allows lawmakers to ask a question without prior notice if it is considered to have urgency and is of public importance. Given the government's pledge to conduct the eviction humanely, Leung asked how this would be done in the face of villagers' pledge to fight to the end.

He also wanted to know what plans the government had to meet the hold-outs and whether the deadline for clearance could be extended for six months. Having heard Cheng's response, he asked: "Will you have face-to-face confrontations with the villagers? Is that what you call humane treatment?"

Cheng did not make any promise to meet the villagers.

About 50 households who want to transfer their farms to a site at Pat Heung have been urging a delay of at least six months while they settle land-purchase issues. Another 30 families are staying because they are not satisfied with the compensation offered for their crops.

Cheng added: "They can appeal for more compensation after leaving the village."
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Old December 26th, 2010, 09:13 PM   #422
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Land resumption at Choi Yuen Tsuen
24 November 2010
Government Press Release

Following is a question by the Hon Leung Kwok-hung and a reply by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Ms Eva Cheng, in the Legislative Council today (November 24):

Question:

On November 19 this year, the Government once again sent officials to carry out land resumption at Choi Yuen Tsuen, causing a certain degree of nuisance; the operation was also obstructed by petitioners and could not be carried out. On the same day, the Government immediately issued a press release saying that it had decided to suspend that day's operation so as to prevent accidents which might cause injuries to the protesters and site workers, and it would extend the grace period to the end of November. The villagers have indicated that if the Government carries out land resumption by force, they will "defend their village with their lives" and fight till the end. The Government has also stated repeatedly that the clearance of Choi Yuen Tsuen would be "handled in a humane manner". In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) given that the residents of Choi Yuen Tsuen have vowed to "defend their village with their lives" and fight against land resumption by the Government till the end, what measures the Government will put in place to avoid confrontation with the residents so as to prevent accidents and avoid people from being injured when it resumes land resumption after the expiry of the grace period; of the specific meaning of "handled in a humane manner", given that the Government has undertaken that the clearance of Choi Yuen Tsuen would be "handled in a humane manner";

(b) given that the Government has stated that land resumption and clearance operation at the village will be carried out in phases, and such work is expected to continue over a period of time, how the Government will meet with the residents as soon as possible to discuss the timetable of the clearance operation, so as to alleviate their concerns and worries, and of the timetable for the Government's meeting with the residents as well as details of the clearance operation; and

(c) given that at present, the Government has not finished calculating the amount of crop ex-gratia allowances for the residents of the village and the specific arrangements for relocation, whether it can postpone land resumption by six months to give the residents sufficient time for preparation; if not, of the reasons for that?

Reply:

President,

Throughout the land resumption exercise at Choi Yuen Tsuen (CYT) from the formulation of the special ex-gratia rehousing package, vetting of applications for various allowances and agricultural resite to the current site clearance and land resumption, we have been handling the issue in a humane manner. We have done our best in helping the villagers and catering for their needs, so that the construction of the Hong Kong Section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL) will proceed and the CYT villagers will have resources and opportunities to choose rehousing options that meet their individual needs and wishes.

My reply to the three parts of the question is as follows:

(a) The Government has stated repeatedly that it will handle the clearance of CYT in a humane manner, that is, phased land resumption. The Administration will firstly take over structures and land for various purposes vacated or handed over voluntarily by the villagers, and commence site formation and preparation for other works. This is a win-win solution as we can buy time to reduce the impact on the progress of the works of the XRL project, while villagers who are not yet prepared may have more time to carry out their moving plans.

The villagers have started to move out and hand over their land and structures voluntarily since mid-October when land resumption commenced. On November 4, our colleagues visited all households, to find out the progress of their moving plans. For villagers who had moved out, we would take over the structures immediately. If the villagers indicated at that time that they needed more time for preparation, we offered a grace period and assistance, taking into account their situation and needs. This experience has demonstrated that such a pragmatic and humane approach can cater for the moving plans of individual villagers as far as possible and avoid unnecessary conflicts.

We have kept in view the moving plans and progress of different villagers since November 4. For example, for villagers who opt for the collective agricultural resite plan, we learnt that the negotiation over the land transaction had reached its final stage. Many villagers have carried out their moving plans and were ready to hand over their land and structures. However, when our colleagues were about to take possession of such land and structures and to understand the progress of the moving plans of other villagers on November 19, they met resistance from protesters.

In fact, among the 230 odd registered households with a total population of over 400, only some 50 households opt for the collective agricultural resite plan, while the remaining 100 or so households have other plans. Handling the land resumption in a humane manner means allowing as far as possible the villagers to move out from CYT in batches and phases according to their needs without affecting the progress of the works of the XRL project. It does not involve any acts of "intimidating and forcing the villagers to leave".

Actually, apart from the current land resumption exercise, we have adopted a humane approach in processing compensation and rehousing cases. Where discretion was permitted under the law and policies, we appropriately exercised such discretion in a humane and sympathetic manner to cater for the needs and circumstances of the villagers as far as possible. Of course, where discretion was not so permitted, the Government has to, naturally, abide by the regulations.

For example, we approved more than 140 applications for special ex-gratia rehousing allowances, of which about 60 were from fully eligible villagers. In addition, I exercised my discretion in approving over 80 applications from villagers who were not fully eligible. As a result, many villagers who lived in converted pigsties or chicken sheds also benefitted. Likewise, we were sympathetic to the needs of the affected villagers and handled these applications in a humane manner as far as possible, such as taking a compassionate approach in handling cases involving the elderly, singleton elders, the chronic illness, single-parent families and those suffering from domestic calamity.

We have adopted the same compassionate approach in processing applications for public rental housing (PRH) from families with special needs. For example, they have been allocated with PRH flats in urban areas to facilitate mutual care with their relatives.

In dealing with applications for agricultural resite, we have tried to help villagers recover evidence through various channels to prove their eligibility. Some villagers stated that they had lost their farming records due to flooding and other reasons. The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) and the Environmental Protection Department rendered assistance by checking files of the past decade or so and visiting vegetable stations and the Kadoorie Farm in search of relevant records. Some villages stated that they did not keep any record of crop sale. The AFCD inspected the sale outlets with them to collect relevant evidence.

Therefore, it can be seen that every aspect of the entire land resumption exercise at CYT reflects our humane way of handling the clearance exercise. This owes much to the concerted and dedicated efforts of the frontline staff of the relevant departments and organisations including the Lands Department, the AFCD, the Housing Department and the Mass Transit Railway Corporation Limited. They processed applications for compensation and rehousing in a fair, square and patient manner, taking into account the needs of villagers.

(b) We have communicated and liaised with every household to better understand their specific needs and the progress of their moving plans, and to provide assistance as far as possible. Since more than a hundred households in CYT do not opt for the collective agricultural resite plan, we consider that this is the best way to understand and meet the needs of individual households, and to protect the privacy of individual villagers.

As for the 50 odd households who opt for the collective agricultural resite plan, we have met with them on many occasions and provided technical support. We, together with Heung Yee Kuk, discussed and co-ordinated with other villagers on issues related to land and access road rights. We have repeatedly indicated to their representatives that if they complete the land transaction shortly, we will explore feasible arrangements that will facilitate their house building plans in the coming months as far as possible while at the same time will not affect the progress of the XRL project.

(c) A total of $250 million including land compensation ($160 million) and various types of ex-gratia cash allowances ($72 million) has been offered to the CYT villagers. Most villagers have collected the payments.

The above compensation was granted to the villagers and farmers of CYT while excluding landowners who did not live in CYT. With a registered population of some 400 villagers, on average over $500,000 has been granted to each CYT villager. Some larger families even received total compensation more than ten million dollars. In addition, more than 30 households have purchased Home Ownership Scheme (HOS) flats with the comprehensive means test waived.

There are still some villagers who are dissatisfied with the amount of crop ex-gratia allowances. In fact, about $13 million of crop ex-gratia allowances have been approved, involving some 160 applicants with more than $80,000 granted for each case on average. Most cases involved small-scale planting in front of the villagers' structures for self-use. The crops grown were mainly for private consumption. More than 30 farmers, who were still actively engaged in agricultural activities, were offered hundreds of thousand dollars of crops allowances each, with the highest offer amounting to over $1 million.
Apart from the allowances, the farmers may sell their harvested crops before land resumption so as to earn additional income.

The crop allowance rates are applicable to all land resumption exercises in the territory. At the request of the villagers, the AFCD has reviewed all the crop allowance rates and applications of all the farmers. The AFCD is of the view that apart from edible aloe vera and organic crops, the allowance rates for all the crops have already reflected the market values and hence no adjustments will be made. The allowance rates for edible aloe vera and organic crops have been adjusted. The new rates will be applicable to all farmers growing these two types of crops.

As such, the mechanism of crop ex-gratia allowance as a whole has provided the farmers with reasonable compensation. We believe that the AFCD has handled the crop allowances in a fair and reasonable manner. They reviewed the crop allowances and adjusted the allowance rates for certain crops, taking into consideration the villagers' views. If individual farmers can prove that the losses they suffer exceed the crop ex-gratia allowances, they may claim further compensation in accordance with the law.

Even if a farmer intends to claim further compensation, it is not necessary to retain the crops on the land. It is because the crop ex-gratia allowance is calculated on the basis of the species, quantity and quality of the crops on the date of assessment, not land resumption or clearance. The AFCD have kept a complete record of the crops on the date of assessment for all the applications. It can serve as the basis of claims for further compensation in future. Therefore, farmers who are dissatisfied with the amount of ex-gratia compensation may move out before claiming further compensation. They should not use this as an excuse to defer moving out.

The construction works at CYT is a key part of the XRL project and involves the diversion of the rivercourse. The schedule is very tight as some of the works has to be completed in the dry season. Therefore, we have to carry out the clearance operation and land resumption on time. The land resumption cannot be delayed.

To conclude, we have devoted much effort to the land resumption exercise at CYT. We hope to achieve a win-win situation for the XRL project and the rehousing arrangements for the affected villagers. On land compensation, we have upgraded the compensation rate from zone C to zone A so as to provide villagers with additional resources to find new homes. We have developed the special ex-gratia rehousing package which provides cash allowance to villagers who have lived in temporary structures on government or agricultural land for a long time. Eligible villagers are allowed to purchase an HOS flat without being subject to the comprehensive means test. This provides them with more rehousing options. We considered agricultural resite applications on the basis of family farms. This allows more members of a farming household to live together and share the farming work. We hope that the public and villagers will appreciate our good will and efforts. That said, as a responsible government, we must ensure that the XRL project will be completed on time and within budget, so that it will fulfill its strategic role.
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Old January 3rd, 2011, 06:46 AM   #423
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Villagers angry work on railway has started
29 December 2010
SCMP

Work on the high-speed railway has already begun at Tsoi Yuen Tsuen but about 70 families remain in their homes - and are complaining about the noise.

MTR Corp contractors and lands and highways officials yesterday visited the Yuen Long village, where 20 to 30 empty houses have been fenced off and are to be demolished first.

An activist helping residents with relocation from the doomed village, Yip Bo-lam, said officials were being inconsiderate.

"There are still 70 families living here," she said. "Some have decided to move to another village to continue farming but are stuck in negotiation with landlords, and others are still finalising compensation deals with the government. Demolition work will surely generate dust, rubble and noise. This is like another way of kicking villagers out."

Villager Ko Chun-heung said one house was knocked down two days ago and neighbours feared that asbestos in it could harm their health.

The law requires demolition of asbestos buildings to be conducted by qualified contractors and to follow standard protection measures.

The villagers are being moved to make way for the HK$66.9 billion high-speed railway to Guangzhou.

Forty-seven of the remaining families have chosen to continue their way of life under a farming reinstatement plan on another site in Pat Heung. They blame the government for not helping them in negotiations with landlords in Pat Heung. Another 30 families who have chosen to stop farming are still negotiating compensation for giving up their crops.

A Transport and Housing Bureau spokeswoman said the MTR Corp had commissioned qualified contractors for the demolition of structures with asbestos. The relevant permits had been granted by the Environmental Protection Department and the demolition would be conducted in accordance with stringent safety standards, she said.

The government started land resumption at the village in October and was now beginning preparatory work, she said. It would keep in contact with villagers and follow up the relocation progress.

The railway work at Tsoi Yuen Tsuen, which involved complex alteration of a river channel, had to be completed during the dry season, she said.
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Old January 5th, 2011, 05:08 PM   #424
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Guangzhou-Shenzhen Express Rail Section to Start Operation

BEIJING, January 5, SinoCast -- China is set to complete construction of the Shenzhen-Guangzhou section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link at the end of this year at the latest, said government officials yesterday.

The rail link project will not support a non-stop access to Hong Kong until four years later because of a later construction of the Hong Kong section, said Liu Zhijun, director for the Ministry of Railways (MOR).

The country is stepping up its efforts to make the Guangzhou-Shenzhen section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link come into operation, according to Mr. Liu, adding that the high-speed railway projects from Beijing to Shijiazhuang and that from Shijiazhuang to Wuhan will come into service within this year.

Notably, China plans to invest as much as CNY 700 billion in railway infrastructure construction projects in the entire 2011, said Mr. Liu.
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Old January 11th, 2011, 04:49 PM   #425
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Over 80% of land in Choi Yuen Tsuen recovered
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Government Press Release

A spokesman for the Transport and Housing Bureau said the Government had taken over more than 80% of land in Choi Yuen Tsuen since its land resumption work started in mid-October last year and had begun preparatory works for the Hong Kong Section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL) on the resumed land.

At present, most of the villagers and business undertakings have moved out from Choi Yuen Tsuen and continued their living in the new homes. Among the remaining some 70 households, most of them opt for the collective agricultural resite plan.

"Recently, some villagers, who plan to take part in the collective agricultural resite, are worried that while the road access issue relating to their newly-bought farmland has yet to be resolved, the due date of clearance is approaching. We appreciate their worries," the spokesman said.

"The Government has stated repeatedly that it will implement land resumption in phases by firstly taking over vacated land, agricultural sites, and structures and sites from villagers and business undertakings who have moved out. At this stage, provided that the construction progress of XRL would not be adversely affected, we shall continue the current work procedures and continue carrying out the preparatory works, such as land formation, demolishing resumed structures, erecting hoarding, on the resumed land. Through this, we aim to extending the due date of clearance for these villagers participating in collective agricultural resite as far as possible to enable them to have more time to handle the road access as well as other issues."

The spokesman understood that villagers who opted for collective agricultural resite had purchased a farmland without a vehicular access at a relatively low price and had to negotiate with the landowners of adjacent lands over the road access issue. It was understood that both parties had yet to reach an agreement and Heung Yee Kuk would continue to coordinate. As the negotiation involved their respective financial interests, the Government could not force any party to accept the terms imposed by the other one.

On rumours that some villagers refused to hand over their farmlands to the Administration on the ground that the compensation issue had yet to be settled, the spokesman stressed that the land compensation issue had been resolved earlier. A total of $160 million of land compensation was granted to the Choi Yuen Tsuen villagers who owned land. The ownership right of all land in Choi Yuen Tsuen now rested with the Government in accordance with the law. The crop ex-gratia allowances were extra sum of money which were unrelated to land right. The Agricultural and Fisheries Conservation Department (AFCD) had already assessed all applications of crop ex-gratia allowances and kept a complete record of the crops on the date of assessment for all the cases. It could serve as the basis of claims for further compensation in future, if necessary. In fact, all farmers (including those who had been engaging in agricultural activities on the Government land), apart from being able to collect crop ex-gratia allowances, were also given sufficient time in last year to harvest their crops for sale before handing over their farmlands. About $13 million of crops ex-gratia allowances had been approved to Choi Yuen Tsuen villagers. Therefore, even if farmers were dissatisfied with the amount of crop ex-gratia compensation, they should hand over their land to the Administration before making further appeals based on the record of crops on the date of assessment taken by AFCD last year.

"The construction works at Choi Yuen Tsuen is a key part of the XRL project and involves the diversion of the rivercourse. The schedule is very tight as some of the works has to be completed in the dry season. Therefore, we have to carry out the clearance operation and land resumption on time. The land resumption cannot be delayed," the spokesman said.
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Old January 23rd, 2011, 05:53 PM   #426
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Activists pushed out in village rail-link scuffle
19 January 2011
The Standard

About a dozen villagers and activists were carried away by police from Choi Yuen Tsuen yesterday as government workers took over land for the construction of a new railway line.

A concern group mobilized around 20 activists who have been fighting for the preservation of the village.

However, New Territories Heung Yee Kuk chairman Lau Wong-fat, who has been coordinating their resettlement, said the villagers have been spoiled by too much public sympathy.

Lau also accused them of telling lies about the amount they were asked to pay for an access road to a village they have bought.

Protesters condemned the action by the Lands Department to clear and resume the site without prior notice.

They waved banners at the farms of the villagers and an activist climbed atop a bulldozer used by the government to demolish crops.

About 30 police officers were sent in to carry out about a dozen villagers and activists before officials entered the village to continue the land resumption.

``What we are asking for is resettlement after compensation issues have been resolved. It's not a harsh request,'' Choi Yuen Tsuen Concern Group chairwoman Ko Chun-heung said.

A spokesman for the Transport and Housing Bureau said the agricultural land taken yesterday is crucial for preparatory works for the Guangzhou- Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link.

He stressed the land compensation issue had been resolved earlier.

``A total of HK$160 million in compensation was paid to those villagers who owned the land.

``They have also been granted about HK$13 million of crops ex-gratia allowances by the Agricultural and Fisheries Conservation Department.''

Most of the villagers and business undertakings have moved out of the village as more than 80 percent of the land has been taken over by the government since mid-October last year.

But villagers said many of the remaining 70 households, who opted for the collective agricultural resite plan, have not yet received their crops ex-gratia allowances.

Ko said they refused to resettle on nearby farmland because owners of adjacent land required them to pay HK$5 million for vehicular access on a private road.

However, Lau said the amount was exaggerated by the villagers.
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Old January 23rd, 2011, 08:00 PM   #427
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those villagers are rich now, what else do they want now?
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Old January 23rd, 2011, 11:41 PM   #428
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those villagers are rich now, what else do they want now?
they claim they want their home and farm, not money.
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Old January 24th, 2011, 02:27 AM   #429
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whatever!

20 people can't be an impediment for conecting Hong Kong with 1.300.000.000 persons in continental China, it's egoism and antipatriotism even in the most developed democracy.

it's ridiculous.
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Old January 24th, 2011, 03:36 AM   #430
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Yeah. Let's ignore people's land rights for rail development and call them unpatriotic for not wanting to lose land they have been working longer then you have been alive.
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Old January 24th, 2011, 04:12 AM   #431
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Don't think there is much room for compromise as the villagers don't want money - they want their village and possibly rebuilding it somewhere else. Unless the government can commit to a rebuild, I doubt the stalemate can be resolved.
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Old January 24th, 2011, 04:43 AM   #432
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Don't think there is much room for compromise as the villagers don't want money - they want their village and possibly rebuilding it somewhere else. Unless the government can commit to a rebuild, I doubt the stalemate can be resolved.
not that they don't want money. they just think they can get more money.

it's what i think anyways.
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Old January 24th, 2011, 05:22 AM   #433
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Don't think there is much room for compromise as the villagers don't want money - they want their village and possibly rebuilding it somewhere else. Unless the government can commit to a rebuild, I doubt the stalemate can be resolved.
the government has agreed to rebuild their village somewhere else so the villagers can continue their village way of life.
but the protesters are arguing the government hasn't built the new village for them to relocate, and therefore the government can't take over their home.
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Old January 24th, 2011, 05:26 AM   #434
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Yeah. Let's ignore people's land rights for rail development and call them unpatriotic for not wanting to lose land they have been working longer then you have been alive.
You need to know the fact that it is not those people's land, it is government's land. More precisely, it's central government's land, not even local government's land

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中华人民共和国香港特别行政区基本法
THE BASIC LAW OF THE HONG KONG SPECIAL ADMINISTRATIVE REGION OF THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA

...................................

第七条 香港特别行政区境内的土地和自然资源属于国家所有,由香港特别行政区政府负责管理、使用、开发、出租或批给个人、法人或团体使用或开发,其收入全归香港特别行政区政府支配。
Article 7 The land and natural resources within the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall be State property. The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall be responsible for their management, use and development and for their lease or grant to individuals, legal persons or organizations for use or development. The revenues derived therefrom shall be exclusively at the disposal of the government of the Region.

Last edited by cbz; January 24th, 2011 at 05:40 AM.
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Old January 24th, 2011, 10:51 AM   #435
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You need to know the fact that it is not those people's land, it is government's land. More precisely, it's central government's land, not even local government's land
Well, maybe those villagers have been farming there much longer than the central government has existed. It's like your kid telling you to piss off out of your own house
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Old January 24th, 2011, 04:46 PM   #436
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not that they don't want money. they just think they can get more money.

it's what i think anyways.
exactly!

it's the same worldwide everytime there's an expropiation

pure oportunism

the difference in this case is antiChina media overrated villagers position and there's an Avatar overdose in people. I don't see western media supporting this kind of people in our own countries.
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Old January 24th, 2011, 05:32 PM   #437
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Luli Pop View Post
exactly!

it's the same worldwide everytime there's an expropiation

pure oportunism

the difference in this case is antiChina media overrated villagers position and there's an Avatar overdose in people. I don't see western media supporting this kind of people in our own countries.
Sounds more ridiculous, it is not expropriation or eminent domain or compulsory purchase.

It is more like a house owner wants to terminate the lease for reconstruction and tenant doesn't want to move out even with another house plus compensation.
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Old January 25th, 2011, 03:32 AM   #438
Silly_Walks
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Luli Pop View Post
exactly!
I don't see western media supporting this kind of people in our own countries.
Obviously you have no idea what would happen if they tried to move a whole village in Holland just for a rail line
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Old January 25th, 2011, 04:02 AM   #439
foxmulder
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Well, I dont know the details but as long as a reasonable compensation is given I dont see any problem. A reasonable compensation will smt like 20% more than the market value for me I dont know how many people are involved but in any case couple of people should not able to stop smt like this big as long as they are compensated.
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Old January 25th, 2011, 04:02 AM   #440
dumbfword
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silly_Walks View Post
Obviously you have no idea what would happen if they tried to move a whole village in Holland just for a rail line
or any Western country for that matter.
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