By Joshua Barajas, Lena Price and Lizzie Chen
Spirited chants and snippets of songs echoed through the courtyard of the Hebei Provincial Guest House on the morning of May 30. The rally was part of a decade-long attempt to draw attention to the Sanheshi government, a town in China’s Hebei province, whose officials, the protesters say, cheated them out of millions of yuan.
Hundreds of Hebei residents invested in plots of land for tombs sold by Sanheshi in 2001. Sanheshi management then resold the same plots repeatedly, leaving the investors high and dry, said a 74-year-old retired worker. The man declined to give his name out of concern that he would not have his money returned.
The majority of investors could get their money back by June 10, but without the proper documentation to prove they originally invested, they might never have it returned, protesters said. The guesthouse protest was one of approximately 150,000 in the country each year, according to statistics provided by the Council on Foreign Relations.