Yes Wukan

The bourgeois capitalist running-dog media machine has received its latest orders and is faithfully slavishly carrying them out: three major Western wire services have featured the story of intensifying Wukan (Guangdong) peasant “unrest.”   In case you haven’t been following the story (and really, who has?  Chinese peasants have been mistreated for at least the last three thousand years:  at some point it ceases to become news), the good villagers of Wukan are angry that corrupt municipal officials …

… sold [communal] farmland to developers without their consent.  Rural land in China is mostly owned in name by village collectives, but in fact officials can mandate its seizure for development in return for compensation, which residents often say is inadequate and does not reflect the profits reaped.

Residents have been complaining since September, but resentment turned to rage when …

Xue Jinbo … who was detained on suspicion of helping organize protests against land seizures, died in police custody. Family members and supporters suspected he was beaten. Chinese media reported that local police and provincial authorities said Xue died of cardiac failure.  Relatives who have seen Xue’s body say it showed signs of torture.

Things haven’t been getting any better:

 [Last week] police entered the village and took away several key [peasant] representatives and when police tried to come back the next day, villagers blockaded the roads with tree trunks and barriers to prevent them from entering.  Police [then] fired tear gas and water cannons at the villagers, who had armed themselves with sticks, clubs, hoes and other farming tools.

In situations like these, the Chinese peasant’s traditional recourse is to appeal to the emperor:

 “We have no justice. Our land has been taken away and villagers are arrested and beaten to death. The people here are furious, but we have to remain calm. Only the central government can rescue us from corrupt officials,” [said a villager].
“The whole village is distraught and enraged. We want the central government to come in and restore justice,” said one resident who described the scene.
“We won’t be satisfied until there is a full investigation and redress for Xue Jinbo’s death,” said another resident.

photo credit: Song Jiang

Huang Hancan, a Wukan fisherman with the unenviable designation of  “one of the village’s representatives in the land dispute,” was not impressed by district-level officials’ promises to investigate municipal officials for wrongdoing and impose a temporary freeze on the farmland development project:

“It’s all a pretense. That’s only a small part of the problem.  The bigger problem is that we want to get our land back. We want to re-elect our village officials because the current corrupt officials were not elected … and we want those [who have been] detained to be released,” Huang said.

Lunghu finds it remarkable that the political climate in China is almost the mirror image of that in the United States:  Chinese peasants believe that local officials are corrupt but that the national leaders actually “serve the people.”   Here in the United States, the rustics generally believe that their local officials are honest, but that our federal representatives are wholly-owned by wealthy corporate interests.  Lunghu concludes that both sets of citizens are hopelessly deluded.

This sounds like a job for … the avenging Heroes of Liangshan Marsh!


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