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A Real Peasants' Revolt. They're rioting in China.
The Weekly Standard ^ | 01/30/2006 | Jennifer Chou

Posted on 01/27/2006 11:10:37 PM PST by XHogPilot

ON THE NIGHT OF DECEMBER 6, 2005, Radio Free Asia (RFA) received a frantic call for help from a resident of Dongzhou village, near the port city of Shanwei, in the prosperous southern Chinese province of Guangdong. The caller told RFA that hundreds of paramilitary police had moved into the area and were firing at thousands of villagers. The villagers had been protesting what they claimed was inadequate compensation for land that local officials had expropriated, and upon which a power plant was being constructed. As the caller screamed into his cell phone, "They are using real bullets on us!" shots could be heard in the background. The incident is referred to by some as "mini-Tiananmen."

According to official Chinese government reports, only three people died in this incident. The government further claims that the protesters initiated the violence with homemade explosives. Eyewitnesses, however, have a different story. They tell RFA that more than a dozen villagers were killed by paramilitary police attempting to quell the disturbance and that the violent reaction of the armed police was out of all proportion to the threat posed by the demonstrators.

In the midst of an economic expansion that is the envy of the world, there is one particular growth industry in China over which the country's stability-obsessed leaders are greatly distressed: the protest industry, especially the rapidly increasing incidence of large-scale protests. A few instances from the last 15 months:

* On October 18, 2004, in the southwestern province of Sichuan, a government official's altercation with a street vendor sparked a night of violent clashes between police and an angry crowd that, according to eyewitnesses interviewed by Radio Free Asia, numbered in the thousands. Paramilitary units were eventually sent in to restore order.

* Also in Sichuan province, on November 3, 2004, authorities dispatched paramilitary troops to quell a protest that lasted several days and involved more than 10,000 peasants, angry over what they viewed as inadequate compensation by the government for land to be used for a hydroelectric project.

* In August 2005, in the eastern province of Zhejiang, more than 1,000 paramilitary troops moved in on thousands of protesting villagers who had demanded the closure of a polluting battery factory that they said was responsible for the high level of lead content in their children's blood.

These "sudden incidents" or "mass incidents," in official parlance, are presenting Chinese officials with a serious problem that goes beyond the negative image of China they project to the outside world. The sheer numbers are noteworthy. In August 2005, the country's public security minister, Zhou Yongkang, announced that some 74,000 such events had taken place in 2004, an increase from 58,000 the year before. According to Zhou, 17 of the 74,000 involved more than 10,000 people, 46 involved more than 5,000 people, and 120 involved more than 1,000 participants. But many believe the actual figures are higher.

There are a host of reasons for these protests. Some involve wage and pension disputes, land requisitions leading to forced evictions, and the burgeoning pollution that has accompanied economic growth. And it has become increasingly common for rallies and other forms of collective protest to escalate into violent clashes between demonstrators and the police.

There is every indication that the government is bracing itself for further trouble. In November 2005, the Ministry of Public Security identified several threats to national security, including deepening discontent among the general public over official corruption, land expropriations, and the widening income gap. And, in a January 12 article in the Chinese Communist party's semimonthly Qiushi magazine (Seeking the Truth), the two highest ranking generals in the People's Armed Police (PAP) vowed to enhance the combat effectiveness of the one-million-strong paramilitary force so that it could deal with "sudden incidents." PAP commander Wu Shuangzhan and political commissar Sui Mingtai noted that this was necessary because these incidents had been growing in number, size, and degree of violence.

The PAP falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Public Security. Since the military crackdown on the 1989 Tiananmen democracy movement, vast resources have been injected into the PAP for better anti-riot gear, newer weaponry, and up-to-the-minute training. As China's principal force charged with ensuring domestic security, the PAP is the Chinese leadership's "first line of defense," and its troops are the first ones mobilized in cases of serious domestic upheaval.

Beijing has demonstrated strong determination in its efforts to control protesters through the PAP. As early as May 2004, public security minister Zhou Yongkang called for a buildup and more stringent drills to improve the PAP's capacity for dealing with potentially violent large demonstrations. And on August 18, 2005, the government announced the institution of specialized riot police units in 36 cities. The first such unit was set up in Zhengzhou, capital of volatile Henan province, where on July 31, 2004, paramilitary troops quelled with tear gas and shotguns a protest by villagers over illegal land requisition.

Of even greater significance is the fact that in August 2005 the People's Liberation Army Daily warned the country's two million soldiers that they would be severely punished if they participated in demonstrations. This warning, doubtless prompted by recent demonstrations in Beijing by demobilized soldiers demanding better pensions, suggests that China's leaders are worried not only about the grievances of displaced peasants, but also about disaffection among rank-and-file members of the military.

In addition to beefing up the training and deployment of PAP forces to deal more effectively with serious disturbances when they do arise, Beijing is increasingly employing methods aimed at nipping protests in the bud. For example, in September 2005, the government announced a sweeping ban on Internet material that "incites illegal demonstrations." And on January 7, Beijing announced that local officials who fail to report unrest and other emergencies to the State Council, China's cabinet, within four hours, will be punished.

Not surprisingly, China's domestic media are reticent about reporting the increasingly frequent large-scale protests and the government's violent responses. Yet China's protesters themselves are proving resourceful. Thanks to the call it received from an eyewitness, Radio Free Asia's Mandarin service was able to break the news of the December 6 shootings in Dongzhou village--and to transmit the information back to China so that people across the country could learn the very thing that their own government was determined to conceal.

Jennifer Chou is the director of Radio Free Asia's Mandarin service.

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Extended News; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: china; commie; commiebastards; commies; communism; peasants; reds; selloff
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Is China falling apart?
1 posted on 01/27/2006 11:10:41 PM PST by XHogPilot
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To: XHogPilot

Simply more evidence to refute the idea that China is going to go western anytime soon. It's still under an iron grip, and anyone thinking otherwise simply doesn't have a grip on reality, or has a vested business interest in the status quo in China.

2 posted on 01/27/2006 11:13:56 PM PST by DoughtyOne (01/11/06: Ted Kennedy becomes the designated driver and moral spokesperson for the Democrat party.)
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To: XHogPilot

I wonder what the Vegas oddmakers have on China screwing up from a PR standpoint on things like this and having the world boycott their 2008 Olympic coming out party.

4 posted on 01/27/2006 11:16:25 PM PST by PittsburghAfterDark
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To: XHogPilot

Don't worry, Bill Gates says China's commies are just peachy.

5 posted on 01/27/2006 11:16:58 PM PST by zarf (It's time for a college football playoff system.)
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To: zarf


6 posted on 01/27/2006 11:20:38 PM PST by txhurl (Gingrich/North '08 although I would like to have Powell if he'd straighten up)
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To: XHogPilot

Would you be a content and complaisant citizen, if you lived there?

7 posted on 01/27/2006 11:21:11 PM PST by sarasmom
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To: CarrotAndStick

8 posted on 01/27/2006 11:21:13 PM PST by Maximus_Ridiculousness (Chloe O'Brian ROCKS!!!)
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To: PittsburghAfterDark

Oh I guess you mean like shooting down your biggest trading partner's aircraft about 100 miles off your coast. Well, one short year after that China was awarded the Olympic games. So much for holding China accountable.

9 posted on 01/27/2006 11:21:38 PM PST by DoughtyOne (01/11/06: Ted Kennedy becomes the designated driver and moral spokesperson for the Democrat party.)
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To: DoughtyOne
One nation, two systems, my shiny butt.

The Chincoms realise that to attempt to maintain the Mao-style of state socialism leads to revolt well sooner than later.

Hence, plan B; allow parts of the economy to pretend to be capitalist(ish), while still running the old state industries at a huge loss, and make the faux-capitalist sector of the economy pay for the privilege.

Ah, but the ChinComs missed something here, now didn't they? What happens when X hundred million peasants hear about all this wealth (''It is glorious to be rich'' -- Deng Xiao Ping, chairman of the Party, right?) and try to move to the cities where the wealth is created...and can't.

No place to live, no job they can do.

Don't waste any nukes on China. The citizens will, in dribs and drabs OR all at once, one day, do the job of neutering the ChinCom philosophy w/o incurring an enormous number of deaths.

'Chasing the Dragon' is the common and traditional euphemism for smoking opium. I would suggest that that phrase also is apropos to the hilariously and inevitably doomed policy of 'one nation, two systems'

10 posted on 01/27/2006 11:24:52 PM PST by SAJ
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To: XHogPilot

you read this and it makes you want to go down to google HQ and strangle those commie-loving bastards.

11 posted on 01/27/2006 11:28:28 PM PST by GodfearingTexan
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I believe your comments describe accurately one possibility. I am still reminded that it doesn't take all that many people to control the masses.

When those without guns start being mowed down by those with them, it sorta puts a dent in your plans to rebel.

I know big money talks. Big guns talk louder.

12 posted on 01/27/2006 11:35:28 PM PST by DoughtyOne (01/11/06: Ted Kennedy becomes the designated driver and moral spokesperson for the Democrat party.)
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To: Maximus_Ridiculousness

that guy's just a little too enthusiastic. i wonder what their dont ask dont tell policy is like?

13 posted on 01/27/2006 11:44:59 PM PST by GodfearingTexan
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To: XHogPilot

the best way to understand this stuff is to compare it to the US supreme court decision to allow governments to expropriate land by immenant domain in order to put up more profitable businesses.

this is really bad law and suggests that the supremes have seriously lost their bearings.

I have heard people in both parties come out against this supreme court ruling as states and municapalities are already starting to abuse the court ruling.

china has the same problem with government expropriation of land .... only they have it in spades.

In china the local governments can take whatever land they want whenever they want0--and they do so. The governing officials are driving their people ca ca by their helter skelter property expropriations.

With the two new conservative judges (assuming alito is confermed) likely within a couple years the US expropriation law will be overturned.)

The chinese don't have a simliar orderly means of changing the rules but from half a world away it looks like the ccp has been pretty good a protecting their interests and perogatives. So before things get out of hand my betting would be that its likely the party would make some adjustments.

14 posted on 01/27/2006 11:46:28 PM PST by ckilmer
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To: DoughtyOne

The soldiers can't be everywhere. A coordinated protest in many rural districts would work. During the long, long history of China, peasant revolts frequently brought down regimes.

15 posted on 01/27/2006 11:46:41 PM PST by maro
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To: CarrotAndStick

the guy in front looks like Pauly Shore

16 posted on 01/27/2006 11:51:45 PM PST by Revelation 911 (God is love, Love endures forever, Love God, Love your neighbor, Vengeance is mine)
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To: maro

I'm not convinced that the general run of the mill Chinese silent majority is interested in such a thing. Yes, there will be the occassional disturbance. Heck, there are here too at times. I still believe the government holds the cards.

Yes, you're probably right about peasant revolts. I still maintain it doesn't take many bodies to convince folks that the odds aren't in their favor.

17 posted on 01/28/2006 12:17:09 AM PST by DoughtyOne (01/11/06: Ted Kennedy becomes the designated driver and moral spokesperson for the Democrat party.)
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To: DoughtyOne
Ordinarily, D.O., I'd agree with you straight off. China, I think, is a different situation though.

That nation has more unemployed peasants in the rural areas than the U.S. has population. Plain fact, no spin at all. The question is: what's to become of them?

Well, from the ChinCom gov's standpoint at least, if they'd care to sit on their butts until doomsday, that's fine; we'll tax some other segment of the economy so they don't run out of rice.

However, that's not the way it's playing out. The rural poor are moving to the cities en masse, and even in direct defiance of the Party's assorted edicts. The ChinCom response to date has been to try to build new cities to accommodate them, hence the radical price changes in copper, iron, and cement over the past couple of years.

Won't work, of course -- CAN'T work -- but the ChinComs apparently are unaware of John Galt's statement to Mr. Thompson.

I've no idea -- certainly hope not! -- that the rural peasants will be mowed down by the PLA on their masters' orders, but I rather think this won't come to pass. Perhaps an incident or two, but no more.

The ChinComs are taking the short end of history, both their own nation's history and that of other nations to boot. This has hardly ever been a winning proposition. Ask Chirac for further details (assuming he's even READ his own nation's history). Or ask the Romanovs, whatever's left of them. Or the pre-Chavez ruling party in Venezuela.

Point is that when a nation gets stuck with SO MANY illiterate peasants who become discontented with being illiterate peasants and WITHOUT bothering to become literate, the sequel is potentially more volatile than mercury fulminate.

Exactly where China is, just this moment.

18 posted on 01/28/2006 12:33:01 AM PST by SAJ
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It will be interesting to see how it plays out. If it goes as many seem to think, China will implode on it's own. I'm not banking on it.

I appreciate the comments.

19 posted on 01/28/2006 12:36:50 AM PST by DoughtyOne (01/11/06: Ted Kennedy becomes the designated driver and moral spokesperson for the Democrat party.)
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To: DoughtyOne

"shooting down" ? Bnnnnnkkkkk.

Think back. Remember?

It was bad enough as it was.

20 posted on 01/28/2006 12:42:02 AM PST by dr_lew
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