China: army fires on peasant protesters

The world is paying little note, but China may have a full-scale peasant revolt on its hands soon. The hideous irony is that the American idiot left, rather than loaning solidarity to the heroic Chinese peasants, will cheer on their oppressors in the name of (a now wholly fictional) “socialism.” Bush, meanwhile, will use the Beijing regime’s human rights abuses against the peasants as a lever to pry further economic concessions (privatization of land and resources, dropping of trade barriers) which will only make the lot of the peasantry even worse, disenfranchising them of what little autonomy and self-sufficiency they have left. From AFP via al-Jazeera, Dec. 7:

Soldiers in southern China’s Guangdong province have killed four people after firing on more than 1000 villagers protesting against the construction of a power plant.

The clash happened on Tuesday evening in Dongzhou village in Shanwei city when hundreds of officers from the People’s Armed Police – a unit of the People’s Liberation Army – were sent in to disperse the villagers, residents said on Wednesday.

“The People’s Armed Police entered the village, they opened fire and shot to death four people,” said a villager by telephone.

“Two died in a local hospital and two were taken to a hospital in Shanwei’s urban centre, but they died, too,” he said before his phone appeared to be cut off.

A teacher at the Dongzhou Middle School said he did not see the incident because he lived outside the village, but learned about it when he arrived at work earlier in the day.

“It’s mainly because of land dispute. Compensation was one of the problems,” said the teacher, who declined to be named.

Compensation denied

According to locals interviewed by the US-based Radio Free Asia, the villagers had been demanding that the government should compensate them fairly for building the power plant, but their requests were denied.

Tensions have escalated for many months and came to a climax on Tuesday, according to villagers and protesters quoted by Radio Free Asia.

“They were firing shots. But they were afraid to move in. We had blocked the roads with water pipes, gasoline and detonators,” a villager who called RFA late on Tuesday said.

Another villager Radio Free Asia quoted said “many” villagers had suffered shotgun wounds.

“I don’t know what kind of guns. I just know they were using real bullets on us. No policemen were wounded,” the villager added.

The radio station said it had confirmed that two people had been killed, and quoted villagers as saying four had died.

Environmental effects

The villager who spoke to AFP said the government began building the power plant last year.

The power plant will be a coal-fired operation that occupies a large amount of land and prohibits villagers from using a nearby lake for raising fishery products and collecting other aquatic products.

“They didn’t get the villagers’ permission to take the land. They didn’t compensate villagers enough. That was the main reason for the dispute,” the villager said.

“Now we can’t even use the lake. We have very little land. We depend on raising fishery products to make a living.”

Shanwei city police and city government officials said they did not have any knowledge of the incident and declined to comment.

See our last post on China, and on the resugent peasant’s movement.

  1. Death toll highly disputed
    A Dec. 12 report on Asia News notes that locals are claiming a death toll of up to 70, and disputing the government’s version of events. It also notes a growing wave of unrest in rural China:

    “We do not trust any officials in Guangdong, even the provincial government,” said one villager who sat with fellow villagers near last Tuesday’s clash site. “They share the same interests and they would only cover for one another.”

    “I’ve seen relatives of the people who were killed kneeling in front of the police (see photo) asking them to return the bodies,” said a villager surnamed Wei. “But the police have refused to hand over the bodies. They’ve taken them away and we don’t know were they are at the moment,” she said.

    Clashes between police and rural communities are on the rise in China. Unfettered economic development is pushing politicians and business people to find ways to seizing land for new industrial development at the expense of farmers.

    On June 11, six farmers died and more than one hundred were seriously injured when armed men attacked the village of Shengyou (Hebei), where a company owned by a son of Minister Li Peng wants to build an electrical power plant on land confiscated from farmers.

    Another typical example is that of Taishi, a village of some 2,000 people in Guangdong province, where farmers revolted after the local village chief (fraudulently elected) was corrupted into illegally seizing and selling their land.

    Despite its concern over the rising tide of social unrest, the central government seems impotent to stem it.

    According to figures released by the Public Security Ministry, the number of protests grew from around 10,000 in 1994 to 74,000 last year involving some 3.5 million people.