The Bitter Earth

Ryan Pyle for TIME

Stumbling blocks: A worker clears the rubble of farmers' homes in Jiangsu province that were razed to make way for a tourism complex

The farmers of Zhuhai village knew they were courting trouble. With the help of a Beijing lawyer discovered through the Internet, they filed a suit against local authorities to try to stop what they said was the illegal expropriation of their land for a tourism complex. Sure enough, as the case dragged through the courts over the past year, the remaining residents of what was once a picturesque village set amid the bamboo-forested hills of Jiangsu province about 125 miles (200 km) west of Shanghai say they were subject to intimidation ranging from officials pressuring their employers to downright...

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