Le Monde has a series of captioned pictures [link no longer exists] documenting beatings inflicted on Shanghai residents who developers wanted cleared out (h/t Shanghaiist). The police were called but never came.
Beyond the fact that this sort of treatment is morally objectionable, here is why you should care:
- Though China is relatively safe, one should absolutely not write off the possibility of violence in one’s business dealings in China. My law firm has been called in at least a half dozen times where violence was either threatened or occurred. We tell our clients that if they owe money to a Chinese company or are involved in any sort of dispute with anyone in China (partner, employee, etc.), they should avoid meeting to discuss the dispute/problem anywhere other than in a neutral, very public place in the day time. A high end hotel lobby in Shanghai or Beijing is a good choice. Singapore or Tokyo or Seoul are an even better choice.
- Know where the land came from on which you are locating your business. Make sure that you will not be hit up for compensation of someone displaced or that some higher-up government authority will not shut you down for the land having been acquired illegally. Do your due diligence on this and even considering putting something in your lease to better protect you. Beijing has been making a lot of noise lately about wanting to make its eminent domain policies fairer and as it does so, you can expect more problems to arise for those on illegally acquired land. There are huge swaths of land in China that were illegally acquired, particularly in third and fourth tier cities.
What are you seeing out there?