Here’s something interesting I just came across: the 2016 Annual Report on Demolition in China (2016中国拆迁年度报告). Apparently it’s the seventh one that’s been compiled. It’s written by a lawyer named Wang Cailiang (王才亮) (website | Weibo site), who apparently does a lot of work in this area, and was presented at a conference sponsored in part by Peking University’s Center for the Study of Constitutional and Administrative Law (北京大学宪法与行政法研究中心).
The report is quite critical of current practices. It discusses developments in the field in 2016 and then summarizes ten key demolition cases from that year. Interestingly, it notes that the entity formally conducting the demolition (拆迁主体) has tended to move lower down in the bureaucratic hierarchy—now we see demolitions conducted on the authority of street offices (街道办事处), village committees (村民委员会), and similar low-level organizations. Because these organizations are often so-called “self-governance” (自治) entities and therefore not considered part of the formal “government,” courts have been turning down administrative lawsuits against them. Needless to say, there should always be some government body responsible; in this case, plaintiffs ought to have a case against whichever government body authorized the street office to carry out the demolitions. But if a court is determined not to take a case—and courts are always trying to find ways to avoid hearing demolition cases—it will find a way. The plaintiffs may have both justice and logic on their side, but that won’t necessarily help.