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January 8, 2011

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Residents clash with villagers over tombs

LOCAL residents are upset that tombstones are being erected just meters from their homes - regarded as an unlucky sign by some Chinese.

But nearby villagers who began setting up the memorials late last month say it's a traditional custom to have their deceased relatives buried and commemorated on their own land.

While the neighborhood property management company in Pudong New Area has asked for help from local government, it is unclear whether the tombs will be moved.

At the moment, 15 tombs are less than 100 meters from the apartment building.

A resident, surnamed Teng, who lives on the fourth floor, said she felt uncomfortable about them. As her apartment faces the tombs, she sees them when she looks out.

The first tomb appeared around the Winter Solstice, a traditional day for visiting cemeteries and an auspicious day for burying ashes in China. Since then, they have continued to appear, said Teng.

While some Chinese believe it is a lucky to see tombs from their home, many do not share this view.

Previously, there had been a garbage station on the site. Teng said she was happy when the station was moved and had expected a better view.

But instead, "it ended up like this," she said.

Most of the building's residents moved from the city's downtown area to the neighborhood near Sanlin Town.

A villager, surnamed Jiang who is building a tombstone, said many deceased relatives were buried there, and they were renovating the tombs. "It's a tradition," said Jiang, who said he was baffled by the residents' complaints.

A village official, surnamed Lu, said he understood residents' concerns, but that local tradition is difficult to change.

Lu said he would try to persuade the families to change their practices. "But this will take time," he added.


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