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How Chinese Real Estate Speculators Are Sticking it to the Man

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The Dean Pickles Asia Obscura blog has a fascinating post about how Chinese suburbanites living outside Beijing manage to get better prices for their land from government developers.

"We spent the last ten days living in a small Tongzhou village, an hour east of Beijing, and construction was non-stop.  Every day we were there, a ramshackle house was torn down and replaced by a building site.  New walls would go up in hours.  Bricks and dust were everywhere," Pickles (possibly not his real name) writes.

"Just beyond the village, though, there were mostly fields.  At the ends of many of the fields were graves.  Conical mounds of dirt, with an inscribed gravestone, sitting on top of the plough lines.  Old women were squatting at the ends of the fields, planting new crops."

He says it "seemed a strange place for graves," so he asked a local to explain.

"The villagers know that the land is going to be developed, and the government will only give them so much money. But if it's a graveyard, they may pay more. So the local villagers build fake graves on their fields, to get more money," he told Pickles. "You know the expression 'shǎjīng?' It means stupid-clever. That's what they are. Shajing shajing."

This being China, we have to assume any houses constructed on the site of a fake graveyard will be haunted by cheap, unconvincing counterfeit ghosts.
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