- The Washington Times - Monday, October 1, 2007

HONG KONG (Agence France-Presse) — A Hong Kong man whose refusal to sell his house in China held up a massive property development has won a record payout.

Choi Chu-cheung and his wife held out for more than a year for more compensation for their house, blocking the construction of an 88-story skyscraper in the heart of the southern Chinese boomtown of Shenzhen.

Despite intimidation from developers and an eviction order from the local government, Mr. Choi rejected a 5.06 million-yuan ($650,000) offer, which he said was just a third of the plot’s value.

After watching all his neighbors move out, the 57-year-old finally won what he called a “reasonable” payout for his six-story house in an out-of-court settlement with the developers.

“The offer was reasonable, and we accepted it. It’s worth it. Without the law and our determination to fight for the compensation, there was no way we would have done it,” Mr. Choi said. “We had a lot of sleepless nights in the past year, but we are happy now.”

Mr. Choi would not reveal the exact amount he received, but he said the figure is “very near” the 14 million yuan he demanded and the couple already spent 1 million yuan on a new house nearby.

Wen Wei Po, a Beijing-backed newspaper in Hong Kong, said the amount is about 12 million yuan, or roughly $1.5 million — record compensation for a property in the fast-growing city.

Mr. Choi said he was inspired by a couple in the southwestern city of Chongqing, whose house attained almost iconic status because of their three-year refusal to move for a huge property development.

Wu Ping’s struggle against the developers earned her the nickname “Stubborn Nail” as her two-story brick house sat in the middle of an excavated construction pit.

The house was finally demolished after a court said the couple would be given a new home nearby and 900,000 yuan in damages.

Property disputes are rife in China, often involving illegal land grabs by developers in collusion with the government.

The national parliament passed a landmark law solidifying private-property rights earlier this year, partly to combat such disputes.

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