The “nail house” that Simon posted on recently has gotten extensive coverage in English-language media. (China Digital Times has a roundup here.) For a single property dispute, it’s a pretty amazing level of attention. It’s even inspired, as CDT notes, a music video. As Simon points out below, the reason for such a heated focus has got to be the images of the house itself, which radiates defiance.
It reminds me a bit of the diaolou around Kaiping in Guangdong province. These miniature castles were built from the late 1800s up to 1949. Their purpose was to display an owner’s wealth, which was often a product of working overseas, and to protect against bandits. The government has applied for a World Heritage designation from UNESCO, and promotes the towers as a tourist attraction. If a settlement can’t be reached over the disputed nail house in Chongqing, maybe they can follow Kaiping and turn it into a museum.