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Someone Tried To Save This Building Using Hundreds Of Posters Of China's President

It's still going to be demolished, despite the unblinking face of Xi Jinping warning against it.

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Fun fact: Every member of China's current politburo has his/her own official portrait. The perfectly combed man in this official-as-hell photo is, of course, China's most powerful man, President Xi Jinping.

It's a strong picture. That's probably why a "nail house" landlord in downtown Shanghai believed in the portrait's power to defeat a demolition order: The landlord, unidentified, covered his building in hundreds of copies of that photo last Friday.

Aly Song / Reuters

A "nail house" is a house whose landlords refuse to accept compensation the government offers them to leave so the property can be redeveloped. This particular building, surrounded by high-rise residential and office buildings, is reported to be standing in the way of Shanghai's No. 15 subway line, which is currently under construction.

The South China Morning Post reported that photos of the building went viral on social media after state-controlled The Paper initially picked them up, but neither the story nor any of the social media comments it reportedly spawned could be found by press time.


It became, as you would expect, a bit of a minor fascination for the neighborhood. Or maybe they were just kinda struck by the Windows XP tile wallpaper flashback.

Word is the landlords of the building have always been tough-asses towards the local government. In the past 10 years, since the building was less than legally built, the landlords haven't been afraid of pushing the envelope with the government.

Aly Song / Reuters

One of the landlords even threatened to commit suicide with gas in order to protect the diversity of businesses run there: a Wonton place, a Sichuan-food restaurant, a mahjong and card games center, an adult shop, and last but not least, the profitable monthly rent revenue from all of them.

Unfortunately, the latest bold move didn't yield the result expected. By Saturday night, a group of police officers were sent in to remove the posters, which ended the short life of a potentially great art installation.

Johannes Eisele / AFP / Getty Images

The Chinese characters here read "chess and cards."

As Xi's photos got ripped off, more Chinese characters revealed ads for "Makeup, nail polish, cosmetics, manicure, braiding." Like we said, this is a real diverse business scene. What a shame that they will be all gone soon.

Beimeng Fu is a BuzzFeed News World Reporter covering China and is based in New York.

Contact Beimeng Fu at

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