WU YING JIN: For the last year or so, I’ve been having this recurrent dream about our house. In China, the land belongs to the nation, so if you want to build or buy a house, you only get the right of usage of the land. But then it may happen that the government decides to use the land for commercial purposes because it has become more valuable, so they withdraw the right of usage from you and give it to some business people or government institution. The law says that in such a case you can get a compensation from the new user of the land. So in my dream, we finally find the right government institution and get a nice compensation. A family of five can get a sum of 400.000 Yuan; one of seven could even get 420.000 Yuan. It’s a nice amount of money.
    But it’s only a dream. One night my husband dreamed that I had caught a lot of fish in a huge fishing net. I think that’s a good sign, a sign of wealth. My best friend also thinks it’s a good omen. If it comes true, I’m going to cook a big meal for everyone!
    I’m always dreaming about this compensation issue. In another dream I sometimes have, some government official tells me we can’t get a compensation because our family isn’t registered in the Hukou system. Then I think, in the dream: “How can we live on if we don’t get that money?”
    These things have been going through my mind for more than a year now. I remember some of the dreams I’ve had, but not all of them. Two weeks ago, we got a notice saying that if we didn’t move out of our house by June 8, they would dislodge us by force and tear down the house. But they didn’t state any reason why we had to leave. Our economic situation isn’t good at all. Why don’t they pay us some compensation? Normally, if you lose something, you also gain something. We have lost something, so why don’t we gain anything?
    Once I dreamed that if they didn’t pay us the compensation, I wouldn’t let them tear down the house. Two days ago, on June 11, they sent some people to plough the land as a preparation for tearing down the house. And the government in Dongli told us they would start demolishing the house the next day, on June 12. At that time, I thought that if I resisted them, they wouldn’t dare to use force against us. But yesterday they came with a bulldozer and started tearing down the house. We’ve put so much work into this house and so much money! Such a beautiful house, and they knocked it down in just a few seconds! We didn’t even have enough time to get all our belongings; a lot of things got destroyed. Can you imagine the fury and anguish I felt at that moment? I nearly went to pieces.
    Last night I slept very badly. I had a nightmare and started crying in my sleep. My husband woke me up and asked me what had happened. Actually I don’t know why I cried in the dream, I don’t remember what the dream was about, I think it was something about money and my wedding dress, but I do remember that I felt this burning sensation in my heart.
    Our former house was very nice. But they never paid us any compensation for tearing it down. That makes our life very difficult, almost impossible. Our house used to have 140 square meters, but the one they offered us now has only 130. According to the accepted standard, each person is entitled to 30 square meters. We are a family of 6, so we should have 180 square meters, but we only get 130. Actually, if you take away the public areas like the staircase, elevator and corridor, there’s only about 100 square meters left. And we are a family of three generations crowded into this space!
    All in all, I think we have lost about 500.000 Yuan. It’s all right for the government to develop the land to earn money, but they can’t ignore the needs of ordinary people like us.