天高皇帝远. The heaven's are high, and the emperor far away.
This well known Chinese expression refers to a universal truth, beyond the gaze of the authorities, regulators, a rule of law, humans can and will try to get away with murder, sometimes literally. The phenomenon of nail houses; privately owned structures and homes where the occupiers refuse to cave to the pressures of forced relocation or the thug tactics carried out by unscrupulous provincial real-estate developers and corrupt local official cronies.
The expression might sometimes be interpreted as the freedom to live and express oneself at a safe distance from a controlling and overbearing state, but most accurately it defines the abuses of power by the powerful over the powerless. The central government organ - the 'Ministry' of Housing and Urban-Rural Development of the Peoples Republic of China (中华人民共和国住房和城乡建设部), are happy to rubber stamp such dubious forced relocation proposals, while ignoring the many hundreds of petitioners trying to save their homes and livelihood throughout China.
*original photo credit: Reuters