Page last updated at 12:06 GMT, Friday, 18 July 2008 13:06 UK

Defiant Beijing family loses home

By Michael Bristow
BBC News, Beijing

The ruins of the Yu family home in Beijing - demolished to make way for the area's redevelopment
Despite great determination, the Yu family finally lost their struggle

Workmen have torn down the home of a Beijing family that was refusing to move to make way for redevelopment.

A demolition crew pulled down the house early on Friday, according to people gathered outside the site.

Bedecked with posters, slogans and flags, the city-centre shack had been attracting attention from neighbours and passers-by.

The Yu family were refusing to move because they said the compensation being offered was far too low.

It was not immediately clear where the family is now living. Family members were not answering their phones.

Later, the local government admitted it had taken matters into its own hands after negotiations with the Yu's broke down.

"Because they had unreasonable requests and refused to relocate... they were forcibly moved," said a statement posted on a government-run website.

Few traces

The Yus' home was one of more than 160 houses and shops that the local government decided to tear down in 2005 to spruce up the roadside area.

Yu Pingju's house
The slogan-covered house drew curious Beijingers

Everyone but the Yus agreed to move. Just a few days ago, they were still promising to defend their property, bought 60 years ago, with their lives.

But virtually all traces of the house were quickly removed.

The Yus' tumble-down home, near many Beijing tourist attractions, was one of hundreds of "nail houses" that have sprung up across China.

These are houses whose owners refuse to budge to make way for redevelopment projects.

Families often complain that they are forced out of their homes and are not given enough compensation.

'Violent dispossession'

Earlier this week, a Swiss-based organisation estimated that up to 1.5 million people have been moved from their Beijing homes because of the Olympics.

The Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions said this had taken place over an eight-year period leading up to this summer's games.

"[The] authorities have used tactics of harassment, repression, imprisonment and even violence against residents and activists," it said.

China disagrees with these figures. It says just 6,000 families have been moved to make way for Olympic building projects.

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