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Chinese 'rocket man' wins record payout over farmland dispute

China News 9th July 2010

Yang Youde wins compensation battle which saw him fight off property developers using homemade pyrotechnics

A Chinese farmer who used homemade rockets to fight off developers was celebrated in the state media today for winning record levels of compensation for his land.

Yang Youde has become a cult figure in recent months for his one-man pyrotechnic resistance campaign, which saw him build a rickety watchtower above his home, from which he fired a bamboo bazooka at builders approaching his land.

He is the latest in a series of high-profile "nail households" that refuse to accept low compensation or intimidation by property developers and government officials.

According to the China Daily, Yang has also become the most successful hold-out, by winning a compensation deal worth more than 750,000 yuan (£75,000) for 1.75 hectares (4.32 acres) of land, a fishpond and single-storey brick farmhouse on the outskirts of Wuhan, Hubei province.

Although he claims to have fired only warning shots at developers, his actions appear to have secured a far higher settlement than that offered to his neighbours. According to the paper, Yang was so pleased that he personally demolished his eight-metre-high watchtower and made preparations to relocate.

Yang signed the deal a week after his elder brother was attacked and injured in an escalation of the confrontation. But the unfavourable media attention this directed at the authorities appears to have worked in his favour. "Their attitudes were totally different and full of sincerity this time. It made me hopeful of being able to iron out our differences," he said.

While property owners are increasingly assertive in protecting their rights, there are still many cases where they lose out.

In March, a 92-year-old man and his 68-year-old son in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province, set themselves on fire in protest against the demolition of their family's pig farm, and the son died of his injuries. However, the sty was torn down.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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