December 29th, 2011
Econintersect: Quietly in the background there is news of protests by Chinese citizens against local government actions that they deem unfair, excessively forceful or corrupt. Reuters has an article this week that describes a ten-day protest in Wukan (picture shows village meeting Dec 21 - click for enlargement) in southern Guangdong province. The protest was eventually defused by a senior Chinese official, Zhu Mingguo, a deputy Communist Party secretary of southern Guangdong province. It appears that protests against inappropriate action be the elite has spread from Occupy Wall Street to Occupy China.
The basis of the protests involved very serious matters. Local government officials had sold 2/3 of the village farmland used by the residents for subsistence and had not provided any of the proceeds for the welfare of the residents. In addition local administrators had taken action against the protests that resulted in the death of one of the organizers. This eventually led to riots and the trashing of a local government office, with three rioters arrested and two sentenced to 9 an 10 years in prison.
The local residents welcomed Zhu Mingguo as a mediator and his intervention has led to the agreement to release the three men held over the protests and concessions regarding the seized farmland. Mingguo made statements putting much of the blame for the disturbances on the local officials.
This incident is not isolated, according to official statements by Zhi. From Reuters:
Speaking to officials about Wukan and other protests, Zhu said these were not isolated flare-ups, the Guangzhou Daily, the official paper of the provincial capital, reported on Tuesday.
"In terms of society, the public's awareness of democracy, equality and rights is constantly strengthening, and their corresponding demands are growing," Zhu told a meeting on Monday about preserving social stability, the paper said.
"Public consciousness of rights defense is growing, and the means used to defend rights are increasingly intense," said Zhu. "Their channels for voicing grievances are diverse, and there is a tendency for conflicts to become more intense."
Zhu also cited protests by migrant factory workers who complained about ill-treatment. These areas where unrest erupted had won praise as "advanced units" - showcases of growth and harmony, noted Zhu.
Not so, he said.
"In these areas there were many problems that were not swiftly identified, and when they erupted, the consequences were even more serious," said Zhu, referring to the response by local officials.
"Like apples, their hearts were rotten even if their skins were red, and when the skins broke, there was a real mess."
Hat tip to Sanjeev Kulkarni.