The heavens are high, and the emperor far away

This poster and Chinese expression reference a universal truth; that beyond the gaze of the authorities, regulators, a rule of law, humans can and will try to get away with murder, sometimes literally. No better an example of this than 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 government 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 more commonly it defines 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 on the daily, while ignoring the many thousands of petitioners trying to save their homes and livelihood throughout China.

*original photo credit: Reuters