The latest example of a “nail house” in western China has reduced a multi-lane highway in the capital of Sichuan province to just a single line of traffic.

Chengdu nail house. Photo: Sina.
Chengdu nail house. Photo: Sina.

Nail houses – isolated holdouts whose owners refuse to accept compensation from developers – have become a divisive issue in Chinese media.

Online, commentators line up to either praise the bravery and tenacity of defiant home-owners or to censure their avarice and stubborn disregard for the greater good.

Chengdu nail house. Photo: Sina.
Chengdu nail house. Photo: Sina.

Circumstances vary between different nail houses and few news stories provide enough details to make an informed judgement on individual cases.

One web user hit the nail on the head when he observed, “Editor, you say every time that nail houses aren’t right, but why won’t you write what their reasons are?”

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Ryan Kilpatrick

Ryan Kilpatrick is a local writer, journalist and editor. Formerly National Online Editor for the That's magazine group in China, his work on the history and politics of the region has earned him the CEFC Award in Modern China Studies and has also appeared in China Economic Review, Asian Studies Review, China Green News, e-International Relations, Shanghaiist and various publications at his alma mater, the University of Hong Kong, where he is currently enrolled in the Master of Journalism programme.