<<previous  | index  |  next>>


In the decades following China’s 1949 revolution, all land was owned by the state and ownership could not be transferred to private individuals or companies. Individual citizens did not own private homes or work for private companies, but were required to live in apartments located within the compound of the government work unit where they were employed. Since the late 1980s, China’s rapid shift toward a market economy, the increasing demand for private home ownership, and the need of local governments for revenue, have resulted in a thriving real estate market. This has been especially true in Beijing, where the upcoming 2008 Olympics has spurred accelerated demolition, eviction and construction in the city center and in surrounding suburbs.

Once a developer acquires a parcel of land, clearance of the site involves several actors:

  • Developers who wish to build on a site must apply for and obtain a series of permits from demolition and eviction management departments.

  • These demolition and eviction management departments in municipal governments process the applications for demolition permits, collect the necessary fees, and are responsible for the process of demolition and eviction.

  • The developers, or the government departments acting on their behalf, are required by law to then approach the existing residents at each site, whether homeowner or tenants, to advise them of their eviction and negotiate compensation.

  • Developers then subcontract a private demolition company, which specializes in the demolition and clearing of sites for construction – either with heavy demolition equipment, or, more often, with unskilled contract laborers who demolish the building by hand.

According to the law, once all parties have signed a compensation agreement, the resident must relocate, either with the help of the demolition and eviction management office or by himself. The demolition and eviction management department can also arbitrate disputes between developers and residents over compensation, and may give developers approval to proceed with “forced demolition and eviction” (qiangzhi chaiqian 强制拆迁) if the resident flatly refuses to move. The law explicitly includes both homeowners and tenants.

Many national, provincial, and municipal regulations and policies cover the process of forced evictions, but these regulations are flawed, and often violated in practice. China’s Regulations for the Management of Urban Residential Demolition and Eviction specifies the procedures through which cities may evict residents.11 In addition, most local legislatures have passed implementing regulations that generally copy the language of the national regulations with only minor modifications.12

The national regulations are divided into five sections: general rules, demolition and eviction management, compensation and resettlement, punishment regulations, and an addendum. The “general rules” section defines the term “evictor” as the work unit which obtains a demolition and eviction permit, and “evictee” as the owner or tenant of the property in question.

The second section on management of demolition and eviction lists the permits required to initiate demolition, and the length of time required to process applications for permits. It stipulates that after demolition and eviction has been approved, property owners are not permitted to undertake new construction or improvements. It requires that the evictor sign a compensation and resettlement agreement with the property owner and any renters. After an evictee has signed such an agreement, if he or she subsequently refuses to move, the evictor may apply for arbitration, may sue the evictee, and may apply to the court for permission to implement eviction. If the evictee does not sign an agreement, she or he may also apply for arbitration and sue the evictor, but has no right to have eviction and demolition stopped while the lawsuit is being heard. If the evictee has not relocated during the arbitration or lawsuit process, the evictor can apply for government permission to proceed with forced eviction.

The third section of the regulations addresses compensation and resettlement, and lists the factors that should be weighed in determining the amount of compensation, as well as giving evictees the right to decide how their funds will be disbursed. The fourth section on punishment sets out general guidelines for setting fines in case of infraction of the regulations. A final addendum sets out dates of implementation of the law.

Even the limited rights protections contained in these regulations are often violated in practice. In many cases, tenants are given little or no notice of their evictions, are mired in arbitrations procedures handled by government officials with an interest in their eviction, never receive their promised compensation, and are denied justice in local courts. In the worst cases, some who refused to move have been injured and even killed during forced evictions.

Violent evictions

When developers and residents fail to reach a compensation agreement, regulations permit developers to apply for permission from the demolition and eviction department to proceed with qiangzhi chaiqian, or forced eviction.13 This term, widely used in Chinese regulations, is defined nowhere, and methods of “forced eviction” vary. Some regulations specify that demolition and eviction companies should go through special training and be informed about relevant laws.14 Others say that developers may call in the police to evict residents.15 Some developers have reportedly tried other approaches, such as, in one case, arson; in another, local officials allegedly aided a developer by shouting “Earthquake!” outside a building in the middle of the night in order to make residents flee.16

There are many reports of unidentified men evicting residents in the middle of the night. Zhang, a Chinese immigrant in the United States whose friends were forcibly evicted from their home in a Beijing compound in 2003, spoke with them often by telephone during the period leading up to and after their eviction. Zhang described what his friends said happened to them:

It started in August. My friends lived on the ground floor of the building. You know in China, ordinary people can’t own land. They got a circular saying that in one month, they had to move out. They felt [the compensation offer] was extremely unfair. There were plans to build a big shopping mall, even though the local zoning laws shouldn’t permit such a big construction.

My friends just wanted appropriate compensation. In the beginning, [developers] tried to sway their hearts. They said, “if you move, you will get good compensation.” Then after the meetings did not get anywhere, they turned to stronger methods. In the middle of the night, while they were sleeping, people came in and broke up the courtyard wall. There were lots of people living there together in this building, they had a shop, it was really dangerous, there were still people living there.

[My friends] called the emergency number the moment it happened, and the police came to investigate. But the police said, “Well, this kind of thing…”—they wouldn’t deal with it. Then the water was cut off. Eventually [my friends] moved out, they moved in with their friends. It was cold, they could have frozen to death. They were suffering, their parents were elderly, and the parents were getting ill.

The residents didn’t believe at first that something like this could happen. I tried to warn them, when I spoke to them on the phone, but they said, “no problem, no problem”—they didn’t believe me. Now they believe me! But no one cares, the government doesn’t care.17

Zhang reported that after the jailing of Shanghai lawyer Zheng Enchong, his friends feared that their international phone calls were being monitored by the government, and asked him to stop calling them.

Others in Beijing, Nanjing city, and Suzhou province have told the Chinese media that developers hired heavy equipment, usually bulldozers, to destroy homes in the middle of the night while residents were asleep inside.18 A Beijing resident reported that his home was bulldozed with possessions still inside, even while he was still arguing in the courts about the size of the house as the basis for compensation.19

There are a number of reports of threats and assaults by employees of demolition companies against residents who refuse to move. In Tianjin, residents alleged on an Internet bulletin board that they were forcibly evicted by employees of the Tianjin city Beautiful East Residential Property Development Company, who rampaged through the half-deserted building, stealing and using property of residents who were in the process of moving out.20 Others have reported that they were verbally threatened or physically attacked.21 There have been unconfirmed media reports of residents being crushed to death by bulldozers during forced demolition and eviction.22 The Tianjin evictee alleged that after residents were beaten by employees of the demolition and eviction company, police refused to investigate.23

Some residents report that these violent evictions occur without warning. More often, the final, violent confrontation between demolition crews and residents occur after prolonged, months-long disputes among residents, developers, and the city’s demolition and eviction management department over how plans are made and what the amount of compensation will be; and after arbitration and legal remedies have failed to satisfy residents.

Lack of consultation and information

One of the main sources of conflict arising during forced evictions is that residents often find out about the demolition of their residence a few days before the government expects them to move. A survey of Chinese laws and regulations on demolition and eviction shows that while some require demolition to be planned in accordance with existing plans (for example, in accordance with plans to preserve historic city areas, to protect the environment, or to develop the city), none require consultation with local residents.24 Even vast resettlement and construction projects can be planned in the absence of any community consultation. There are no requirements in Chinese law that residents be consulted or notified about such a project.

Construction projects are often implemented and residents evicted with little or no advance notice. In some extreme cases, residents return home from work to find the character chai (demolish) written on the walls of their houses, or even come home to find their house already demolished.25 Demolition and eviction regulations do contain strict requirements in terms of the permits and approvals developers must obtain from local authorities, and the time limits within which those should be applied for and issued.26 However, there are generally few or no requirements for advance notice to evictees. Some regulations require that the developer inform residents within five days of receiving government approval of demolition plans, and others require detailed information be given to residents, but they do not specify how far in advance of the demolition notice should be provided.27

Some residents allege that the information they receive regarding their eviction is intentionally misleading. According to an article in Nanfang zhoumo [Southern Weekend], residents in Jinhua city, Zhejiang, said authorities claimed in a demolition notice that they were being relocated to make way for a “green belt.” Authorities used this reason to justify low compensation for the eviction and the refusal of residents’ request that they be resettled in the same neighborhood. Evictees say they later learned that authorities were in fact building high-end private apartment blocks.28

Disputes over compensation

Disputes between developers and residents often arise over low rates of compensation and poor resettlement options. Once they learn that their home will be demolished, residents generally have little option to prevent it, and instead attempt to negotiate with the development company over the amount of compensation. According to the national demolition regulations, developers must pay evictees compensation equal to the full market value of their properties,29 with an added (although unspecified) amount of compensation for business loss in the case of non-residential properties.30 Reporters have noted that in some cases developers pay compensation to the local authorities instead of to evictees.31 Some residents have alleged that municipal demolition and eviction management departments have embezzled compensations funds: in one case, a banker alleged that the developer put 8 million yuan into a demolition and eviction compensation fund managed by the municipal department. According to this allegation, the management office unilaterally lowered the amount of compensation paid to residents, and kept the remaining 960,000 yuan (about U.S.$116,000) for the departments’ own use, later investing this money in a commercial real estate project.32

Regardless of the regulations, Chinese experts also report that the amount of compensation may in some instances be unilaterally decided by the developers or the demolition companies. It may be set far below market value, with little or no account taken for loss of income in the case of properties used for family businesses.33

Sometimes the promised compensation is only partly paid or not paid at all.34 Kong, the son of a Beijing couple who were forcibly evicted, reported to Human Rights Watch that developers had been approaching his parents about demolishing their home for a year, but had been unable to convince them to sign a compensation agreement. Then, suddenly,

the demolition and eviction management department came to say they had only two days to move before forced demolition. The government department did not approach them and offer an agreement…. [My parents] didn’t get anything [as compensation], and they had no help with resettlement.35

Chinese government-run media reports have also raised concerns that, as property values rise in downtown areas and evicted residents receive compensation below market value, evictees may be unable to afford property in the area where they had been living, and may be forced to resettle in the developing suburbs where employment is difficult to find.36

Arbitration and judicial remedies

At the heart of many residents’ complaints about the demolition and eviction process is frustration with the lack of meaningful redress. Arbitration and legal remedies, when available, are poorly implemented, and are often rife with official corruption. As Ji, a Chinese lawyer with experience defending the rights of residents in forced eviction cases, explained to Human Rights Watch: “There are two reasons for demolition and eviction: national development and individual benefit. Big corruption is a serious cause behind demolition and eviction problems.”37

Chinese regulations specify that in cases where residents and developers are unable to reach an agreement on compensation for the demolished home, residents may seek arbitration by the municipal demolition and eviction management department or bring a lawsuit against the developer.38 In practice, the arbitration system appears to be deeply flawed. Many city demolition and eviction departments are said to have conflicts of interest that would make it difficult for them to render a fair decision in a hearing between developers and residents. First, while demolition regulations forbid local demolition and eviction departments to carry out demolition and eviction themselves,39 such departments often have close connections with the companies that do the work. In these cases, authorities have little incentive to find in favor of residents trying to block demolition or to crack down on breaches of regulations by their own companies.

In addition, there have been allegations of corruption and improper financial interests within the administration of demolition and eviction. An evictee in Hunan province posted a letter on the Internet complaining that he was refused the right to negotiate compensation for his home by the demolition company. The legal representative of the company, it turned out, was both the city’s deputy mayor and the director of the city’s construction bureau. 40 As the China Economic Times observed, local authorities profit from fees associated with the issuance of permits to developers, who then also are likely to choose to hire demolition companies with official connections in order to conduct forced evictions.41

All these problems lead many who have sought and failed to find redress in the arbitration system to take their cases to court. However, those who do so, and who are able to find and afford a qualified lawyer to represent them, are likely to encounter familiar conflicts of interest in the court system. Chinese legal experts say that many courts refuse to hear cases brought by evicted urban residents.42 One resident told Human Rights Watch that even when the municipal department has clearly not followed procedures spelled out in the regulations, such as obtaining a relocation agreement signed by developer and resident, the court may still find against the resident.43 Political interests may intercede: China’s judicial structure permits local Communist Party committees to decide which cases are and are not heard by courts. In some demolition and eviction cases where there are strong official interests, Party committees may instruct judges to refuse to hear the cases.44 In others, courts simply tell plaintiffs that demolition and eviction cases are “outside of their area of responsibility.”45

In the wake of the jailing and conviction of Shanghai lawyer and tenants’ rights advocate Zheng Enchong, some residents and lawyers told Human Rights Watch that lawyers are afraid to take forced eviction cases. “My friends [who were evicted in Beijing] wanted to find policies and laws that would help them, but the police investigated and failed to find any. So they found a lawyer willing to take their case, but after Zheng Enchong, the lawyer wouldn’t dare to [represent them],” said Zhang, the friend of a Beijing family who were forcibly evicted from their home.46 Two other Chinese legal experts on demolition and eviction who spoke with Human Rights Watch on condition of anonymity after the Zheng Enchong trial expressed similar fears. One was careful to stress that unlike Zheng, he was only sharing information with Human Rights Watch that had already been published in officially approved news sources.

Should a plaintiff triumph over this system and win the case, his home is already likely to have been demolished, because China’s regulations render the judicial process irrelevant. All the national and local regulations surveyed for this report permit forced demolition to proceed even before lawsuits have been decided; that is, one cannot get a judicial injunction blocking the demolition pending resolution of the case. For instance, the national regulations state that “during a lawsuit, the implementation of demolition and eviction will not be stopped.”47 Two Beijing residents reported that the demolition department ordered the demolition of their homes, even though the local court had only authorized one of the demolitions. Both houses were destroyed anyway, and when residents protested, they were detained by police. Both later alleged they had been physically abused by the police.48

International law

China has signed and ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). Article 11 of the ICESCR guarantees “the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living…including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions.”49 The problem of forced evictions figures prominently in international debate on adequate housing. In 1991 the U.N. Committee on Economic Social, and Cultural Rights, which is entrusted with authoritatively interpreting the ICESCR, stated that "forced evictions are prima facie incompatible with the requirements of the covenant."50 Likewise the U.N. Commission on Human Rights in 1993 concluded that "forced evictions are a gross violation of human rights."51

International law does allow for government exercise of eminent domain under appropriate circumstances. The term “forced evictions” has been defined by the U.N. Committee on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights “as the permanent or temporary removal against their will of individuals, families and/or communities from the homes and/or land which they occupy, without the provision of, and access to, appropriate forms of legal or other protection. The prohibition on forced evictions does not, however, apply to evictions carried out by force in accordance with the law and in conformity with the provisions of the International Covenants on Human Rights.52

The Committee addressed the issue of forced evictions in its General Comment 7.53 According to the Committee, all persons should possess a degree of security in their home, which should include legal protection against forced eviction.54 The Committee noted that forced eviction is frequently justified “in the name of development,” and is carried out for such purposes as urban renewal, housing renovation, and city beautification programs, or for holding major sporting events like the Olympic Games.55

Forced eviction, except where justified,56 not only violates the right to adequate housing, but may also result in violations of other rights, such the rights to security of the person and to one’s home.57 According to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in its examination of forced evictions in an international human rights framework:

While the right to adequate housing is perhaps the most obvious human right violated by forced evictions, a number of other rights are also affected. The rights to freedom of movement and to choose one's residence, recognized in many international laws and national constitutions, are infringed when forced evictions occur. The right to security of the person, also widely established, means little in practical terms when people are forcibly evicted with violence, bulldozers and intimidation. Direct governmental harassment, arrests or even killings of community leaders opposing forced evictions are common and violate the rights to life, to freedom of expression and to join organizations of one's choice. In the majority of eviction cases, crucial rights to information and popular participation are also denied.58

The Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Committee considers legislation against forced evictions to be essential for building a system of effective protection. Such laws should include measures that “provide the greatest possible security of tenure to occupiers of houses and land,” and which are “designed to control strictly the circumstances under which evictions may be carried out.”59 States must ensure that their laws are adequate to prevent and, if appropriate, punish forced evictions carried out by private persons without appropriate safeguards. Existing laws and regulations that are incompatible with the right to adequate housing should be amended or repealed.60

The Committee also has urged states to ensure that, prior to any evictions, particularly those involving large groups, all feasible alternatives are explored in consultation with affected persons, with a view to avoiding, or at least minimizing, the use of force. Those facing eviction orders must have legal remedies available. And states should see to it that those evicted have a right to adequate compensation for any property affected.61

Finally, the Committee found that because forced evictions may infringe on a large number of rights, appropriate procedural protection and due process is “especially pertinent.”62 The procedural protections that should be applied include: genuine consultation with those affected; adequate and reasonable notice of the date of eviction; timely information on the proposed evictions and the alternative purpose for which the land is to be used; the presence of government officials at evictions affecting groups of people; proper identification of those carrying out the eviction; and the availability of legal remedies for those affected and access to legal aid. Some of the procedural protections required by the ICESCR are missing from Chinese national and local regulations, and most of these protections seem absent in practice.

Chinese government harassment of the tenant’s rights movement, including the arbitrary arrest and detention of tenant’s rights advocates, infringes upon the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and association. These fundamental rights are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights63 and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR),64 as well as other international treaties and documents.65 China, which has signed but not yet ratified the ICCPR, is obliged pending ratification to refrain from acts which would defeat the object and purpose of the covenant prior to its ratification.66

11 Chengshi fangwu chaiqian guanli tiaoli [Regulations for management of urban residential demolition and eviction], published by the State Council on March 22, 1991, implemented November 1, 2001.

12 Many Chinese provincial and municipal demolition and eviction regulations were available at, between November 2003 and January 2004. As of January 29, 2004, the page was no longer accessible. Regulations surveyed for this report include those for the cities of Beijing, Chengdu, Nanjing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Dalian, as well as provincial regulations for Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui, Inner Mongolia, Yunnan, Guangdong, and Liaoning. As the regulations tend to resemble each other and the national regulations, in most cases this report cites the national regulations.

13 “Regulations for management of urban residential demolition and eviction,” art. 17.

14 Dalianshi Chengshi fangwu chaiqian guanli banfa [Methods for management of urban residential demolition and eviction in Dalian city], implemented November 1, 2001, art. 12.

15 “Methods for management of urban residential demolition and eviction in Dalian city,” art. 10.

16 Wen Xinwen, “Tian xiaoming: ‘Tianqi’ yubao [Daybreak over the fields: ‘Weather report’],, December 11, 2003; “Shaanxi bufen guanyuan wei dongyuan minzhong banqian jia chen dizhen yinfa konghuang [In order to make people move, some Shaanxi officials falsely cry ‘Earthquake’ and start a panic],”, November 6, 2003.

17 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Zhang [pseudonym], January 22, 2004.

18 Zhu Zhongxun, “Suzhou yili chaiqian “dingfeng zuoan” shimin shenye zao yeman bangjia [Suzhou forced evictee brutally kidnapped in middle of night],” Jiangnan shibao[Jiangnan Times],December 12, 2003, shtml; Anonymous post by Nanjing resident, “Nanjing qiangzhi chaiqian, zai si yi ren! [Nanjing forced eviction kills another person!],” November 1, 2003,; “Beijing heibang yili chaiqian an fan bei pu [Beijing criminal charged for violent eviction], Ming Bao, re-posted on, October 30, 2003.

19 Wang Xiaoxia, “Baoli chaiqian anli diaocha [Investigation of violent demolition and eviction cases],” China Economic Times, November 19, 2003.

20 Posted by “Rights of the Masses are No Small Matter”, “Fanying Tianjinshi Hedongchude yeman chaiqian wenti [Report of savage eviction problem in Hedong district, Tianjin city],” posted on Beijing Entertainment News bulletin board,, December 12, 2003.

21 Xie Guangfei, Chen Xiaofeng, “Chaiqian yeman xing diaocha [Investigation of the savage nature of demolition and eviction],” China Economic Times, November 5, 2003).

22 Xie Guangfei, Chen Xiaofeng, “Investigation of the savage nature…;” “Bei yanmi fengsuo de xiaoxi: Nanjing dengfuxiang chaiqianhu Weng Biao zifen zhihou, you you liangren cansi zai chaiqian er zi zhixia [Highly classified news: Two more people die in tragic demolition and eviction after Nanjing evictee Weng Biao's self-immolation],”

23 “Rights of the Masses are No Small Matter”,

24 See, e.g., Liaoning sheng Chengshi fangwu chaiqian guanli banfa [Methods for the management of urban residential demolition and eviction in Liaoning province], September 29, 2002, art. 3; Nei Menggu Chengshi fangwu chaiqian guanli banfa [Methods for the management of urban residential demolition and eviction in Inner Mongolia], December 3, 2003, art. 3; Chengdushi Chengshi fangwu chaiqian guanli zhixing banfa [Methods for the implementation of the management of urban residential demolition and eviction in Chengdu city], November 1, 2001, art. 3.

25 You Shan, “Shangfang wuxiao: Qingdao chaiqianhu Zhongnanhai jingzuo hangyi [Petitioning brings no response: Qingdao evictees stage peaceful sit-in protest at Zhongnanhai],” Radio Free Asia, November 21, 2003.

26 “Requirements for the management of urban residential demolition and eviction.” Article 8 of the regulations states: “Residential demolition and eviction management departments and the demolishers should properly disseminate and explain [the project] to the residents in a timely manner.”

27 “Methods for the implementation of the management of urban residential demolition and eviction in Chengdu city,” art. 9; “Methods for management of urban residential demolition and eviction in Dalian city,” art. 15.

28 Cheng Gong, "Zhi chaiqian zhi tong (Treat the pains of demolition and eviction),” Southern Weekend, December 31, 2003.

29 “The sum of the compensation money will be determined based on the location, use, construction area and other factors, and by using the appraised real estate market price of the demolished home.” Chengshi fangwu chaiqian guanli tiaoli,art. 24.

30 “In cases where demolition and eviction of non-residential property results in a cessation of production or business, the evictor should give suitable compensation.” “Regulations for the management of urban residential demolition and eviction,” art. 33.

31Jidian pingxi: Ying jiaqiang zhengdi buchangde zhengci yanjiu [Analysis: Compensation by requisitioning locations should undergo stronger policy study],” Nongmin ribao [Peasants’ Daily], September 15, 2003.

32 Wang Xiaoxia, “Chaiqian buchangkuan bei qintun nei mu [Demolition and eviction compensation funds embezzled behind the scenes],” China Economic Times, September 24, 2003.

33 Wang Xiaoxia, “ Chaiqian cheng raomin gongcheng, Zhuanjia jianyi tigao buchang biaozhun ” [Chaiqian has become the harassment to people, Experts suggest raising the compensation standard], China Economic Times, November 12,2003.

34 Song Zhenyuan, Zhou Guohong, Cui Lijin, “Chaiqian zhi tong, tong che minxin [The pain of demolition and eviction severely hurts the people],” New China News Agency, November 13, 2003.

35 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Kong [pseudonym], December 10, 2003.

36 A typical evictee in Nanjing complained that she couldn’t find work in the desolate resettlement area and could not afford to travel into town to work (Song Zhenyuan et. al., “The pain of demolition and eviction severely hurts the people.”).

37 Human Rights Watch interview with Ji [pseudonym], lawyer, November 11, 2003.

38 “In cases where evictors and evictees, or evictors, evictees and tenants who have still not reached an agreement on demolition and eviction compensation and eviction; then persons involved in the matter may apply to the residential demolition and eviction management department for arbitration.” “Regulations for the management of urban residential demolition and eviction,” art. 16.

39 “Residential demolition and eviction management departments may not act as demolishers and evictors, and may not be entrusted with demolition and eviction.” “Regulations for the management of urban residential demolition and eviction,” art. 10.

40 Letter posted on the site of real estate lawyer Qin Bing, “Qin lushi, nihao! Women shi Liuyangde bei chaiqian hu [Hello, Lawyer Qin, we are evictees in Liuyang],” posted November 29, 2003,

41 Zhang Fan, “Chaiqian jiufen beihou you zhongda falu wenti [Serious legal questions in the background of demolition and eviction conflicts],” China Economic Times, October 22, 2003.

42 Prof. Cheng Jie, public presentation at Columbia University, November 13, 2003; Human Rights Watch interview with Yi [pseudonym, lawyer, New York, November 11, 2003.

43 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Kong [pseudonym], December 20, 2003.

44 Human Rights Watch interview with Yi [pseudonym], lawyer, New York, November 11, 2003.

45 Prof. Cheng Jie, public presentation at Columbia University, November 13, 2003.

46 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Zhang [pseudonym], January 22, 2004.

47 “Regulations for the management of urban residential demolition and eviction,” art. 16.

48 Wang Xiaoxia, “Baoli chaiqian anli diaocha [Investigation of violent demolition and eviction cases],” China Economic Times, November 19,2003.

49 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), G.A. res. 2200A (XXI), 21 U.N. GAOR Sup. (No. 16) at 49, U.N. Doc. A/6316 (1996), 993 U.N.T.S. 3, entered into force January 3, 1976, art. 11. China ratified the ICESCR on June 27, 2001. Chinese translations of the ICESCR are available from Human Rights Watch at and from the Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor at Both sites are usually blocked in mainland China.

50U.N. Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, General Comment 4, The right to adequate housing (Art. 11 (1) of the Covenant) (1991).

51U.N. Commission on Human Rights, Resolution 1993/77, para. 1, See also U.N. Sub-Commission on the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights, Resolution 1998/9 on Forced Evictions, E/CN.4/SUB.2/RES/1998/9 (Aug. 20, 1998).

52 Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, General Comment 7, “The right to adequate housing (Art. 11 (1) of the Covenant): forced evictions,” U.N. Doc. E/C.12/1997/4 (1997).

53 U.N.Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, General Comment 7, The right to adequate housing (Art. 11 (1) of the Covenant): forced evictions, U.N. Doc. E/C.12/1997/4 (1997).

54 General Comment 7, para. 1.

55 General Comment 7, para. 8.

56 According to General Comment 7, para. 12:

Where some evictions may be justifiable, such as in the case of the persistent non-payment of rent or of damage to rented property without any reasonable cause, it is incumbent upon the relevant authorities to ensure that those evictions are carried out in a manner warranted by a law which is compatible with the Covenant and that all the legal recourses and remedies are available to those affected.

According to paragraph 15, “In cases where eviction is considered to be justified, it should be carried out in strict compliance with the relevant provisions of international human rights law and in accordance with general principles of reasonableness and proportionality.”

57 General Comment 7, paras. 5 & 9. See International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, arts. 9 & 17.

58 U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Fact Sheet no. 25, “Forced Evictions and Human Rights,” 1996 (available at

59 General Comment 7, para. 10.

60 Ibid., para. 10.

61 Ibid., para. 14.

62 Ibid., para. 16.

63 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, G.A. res. 217A (III), U.N. Doc A/810 at 71, (1948), arts. 19, 20.

64 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, G.A. res. 2200A (XXI), 21 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 16) at 52, U.N. Doc. A/6316 (1966), 999 U.N.T.S. 171, entered into force Mar. 23, 1976.

65 See, e.g., Johannesburg Principles on National Security, Freedom of Expression and Access to Information, Freedom of Expression and Access to Information, U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/1996/39 (1996).

66 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, concluded May 23, 1969, U.N. Doc. A/CONF.39/28, 1155 U.N.T.S. 331 (entered into force Jan. 27, 1980), art. 18.

<<previous  |  index  |  next>>

March 2004