BEIJING (Reuters) - A Chinese farmer has declared war on property developers who want his land, building a cannon out of a wheelbarrow and pipes and firing rockets at would-be eviction teams, state media said on Tuesday.
Yang Youde, who lives on the outskirts of bustling Wuhan city, in central Hubei province, says he has fended off two eviction attempts with his improvised weapon, which uses ammunition made from locally sold fireworks.
“I shot only over their heads to frighten them,” the China Daily quoted him saying of his attacks on demolition workers sent to move him off his land. “I didn’t want to cause any injuries.”
The rockets can travel over 100 metres, and exploded with a deafening bang, the official paper added. It did not say if anyone had been injured.
His approach is more aggressive than most, but Yang’s problem is a common one.
Anger over property confiscation is one of the leading causes of unrest in China, with many people forced to give up homes and land to make way for anything from roads to luxury villas.
Yang says the local government has offered him 130,000 yuan ($19,030) for his fields, on which they want to erect “department buildings”. He is asking for five times that amount.
Construction ditches have already been dug across the land of less obstinate neighbours.
A first eviction team attacked him in February after his rockets ran out, but local police came to his rescue. In May he held off 100 people by firing from a makeshift watchtower.
The government is planning to reform property confiscation rules, but rights groups say the changes do not go far enough to address the potentially destabilising issue.
Reporting by Emma Graham-Harrison; Editing by Jeremy Laurence