Chinese man dies after setting himself alight over eviction
Sun, Sep 19, 2010

BEIJING - A Chinese man who set himself on fire to protest over being evicted has died of his burns, state media said Sunday, in the latest case of deadly resistance against land seizures.

Ye Zhongcheng, 79, was one of three people who set themselves alight earlier this month in a bid to stop local officials from forcing them out of their homes in the eastern province of Jiangxi, the official Global Times said.

Eight officials in Yihuang county, where the incident occurred, have been placed under investigation over the case, the report said.

Ye, Zhong Ruqin, 31, and her mother Luo Zhifeng, carried out the desperate act as they were dissatisfied with the compensation offered in return for their forced eviction from their homes to make way for a bus terminal, it added. Zhong and Luo are still in critical condition.

China has witnessed a surge of violent confrontations over land seizures as officials and businesses seek to cash in on a property boom and forcibly remove residents to make way for property developments or infrastructure projects.

In one case that shocked the nation, a woman set herself on fire last year in the southwestern province of Sichuan over the planned demolition of her husband's garment-processing business. She died 16 days later.

In March this year, a Chinese farmer in the eastern province of Jiangsu also died after he set himself on fire to prevent his house from being demolished.

Lei Xianggen, a spokesman for Yihuang government, was quoted as saying that eight officials, including the county's communist party secretary, were under investigation for their possible connection with the eviction.

Several other officials at the county construction bureau have been removed from their posts, he added.

The violent incidents, and mounting public anger over skyrocketing housing prices, have led to the government adopting a series of measures to cool down the property market.

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