Saturday, December 10, 2005

The speed of news

Bad news travels fast, they say, but not so here in China. Especially regarding anything bad like, say, a chemical pollution spill, or the shooting of protestors. As I mentioned yesterday, there has been an incident in the south, near Guang Dong city.
this happened on tuesday, and no-one knew until it was leaked yesterday. Therefore the speed of bad news is about 5 days ;) That's an improvement on old times though.

Here's what the BEEB has to say on the matter.

So, the Chinese news agency Xin Hua - official mouthpiece of the government - claims that these peasants, whoo were protesting about the compulsory purchase of their land to build a windfarm, was unfair as they recieved no compensation. They then held demonstrations, and apparently threw petrol explosives at the police, who had to return fire "in alarm". Alarm seems to me not to be a good excuse to open fire!

As a result, Xinhua claims that 3 villagers died, eyewitnesses say nearer to 20 did, this out of a total of some 300 protestors (xinhua) or 1000 protestors (eyewitnesses).

These village based uprisings are getting more and more common in China - last year there was a notorious stand off between a village and police forces that lasted several days until the army was called in. But if you look at Chinese history and literature, peasant uprisings are common. The classic novel "Bandits of the Marsh", although not strictly about peasants, is about a group of maltreated officials and other characters who stand up against the government and fight them off till granted pardon for the crimes they did not commit. Similarly, the 19th century was full of uprisings and dissent, and the collapse of Dynasties was nearly always preceeded by popular uprising. I'm not making any predictions here, but the Hukou system which I have mentioned before, is really alienating the peasant population - and they are getting more and more demonstrative about it. The near future is going to be extremely interesting here.


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