Chinese peasants defend lands, village democracy

The Epoch Times, an international publication run by Chinese exiles harshly opposed to the People’s Republic government, ran a synopsis Oct. 15 of its ongoing coverage of the rural conflict in Taishi, a village in Guangdong now occupied by police following protests against municipal corruption. This story says much about current political dynamics in the People’s Republic of China, but it is slightly ironic that Epoch Times insists on casting it in anti-Communist rhetoric. The facts make abundantly clear that China’s current rulers are now Communist in name only—the underlying conflict here concerns the privatization of village agricultural lands for the garish real-estate developments of the burgeoning nouveau riche elite.

Taishi Reveals the Reality of Village Elections in China
No land sales without representation?

The events of the past few months in the village of Taishi (Guangdong Province) have wiped out the stream of communist lies about “village elections.” What began as a ruse to fool the Chinese people and the Western world into thinking the Communists were amenable to democracy has become yet another example of communist deception, corruption, and brutality.

The tale of Taishi began this past summer when villagers, angry at missing public funds totaling roughly $12 million, attempted to recall their village leader, Chen Jinshen… [A] recall petition was launched against Chen and the village council, chosen earlier in the aforementioned “village elections.” The villagers easily acquired the minimum number of signatures to trigger a recall.

The Communist reaction was swift. At first, it was just local cadres, who “searched in the village for the signers of the petition, forcing them to withdraw their signatures,” until “several hundred villagers confronted the officials, who had to leave.” Next, the cadres “started kidnapping the campaign organizers,” and after the abductions spawned more protests, they “sent over 500 riot police armed with shields to confront the villagers.”

On September 12th, the…communists in Fanyu District (of which Taishi is a part) decided to put an end to it once and for all. They sent in almost 1,000 cops to Taishi with water cannons to disperse the crowd… The next day, Guo Feixiong, an attorney who was helping the villagers, disappeared. It was nearly two weeks before anyone knew where he was: inside a Communist prison. He remains there to this day —— and is now on a hunger strike in protest of the cadres’ brutal treatment…

Amazingly, despite the Communists’ emulation of Bull Connor, the determined people of Taishi held an election on the 16th, and rejected the Communists’ slate for their own candidates. Within a week the village’s choices were forced to quit due to threats from local cadres.

As word of the communists’ open violation of their own “election law” continued to spread, a foreign reporter (Benjamin Joffe-Walt of Britain’s Guardian) decided to see the situation for himself, bringing Lu Banglie, an activist from Hubei Province, along with him. They never made it to Taishi; they were stopped on the outskirts by a communist-inspired mob that seized upon Lu and “beat him until he was lifeless” (miraculously, Lu survived)…

Why would the Communists be so determined to stop this small village from following the very laws they put in place? Radio Free Asia…revealed the answer:

“The truth is that a victory in Taishi would have thrown into question the legality of a whole slew of similar property deals right across the Pearl River Delta region. Because an awful lot of property there is built on illegally acquired land in which the original land-rights holders—the farmers—had not consented to these transactions. The fierce reaction by the Guangdong authorities to the Taishi campaign shows just how clearly they realize that the Taishi issue is not an isolated phenomenon.”

See our last post on China, and the resurgent independent peasants’ movement.

  1. The people in China are still
    The people in China are still in peril. Because of the rampant corruption, it seems to me that they will forever be peasants. At least the government must do something about this. As we all witnessed, violonce can kill a nation.

    1. If they are lucky…
      …they will remain peasants, with a modicum of dignity and autonomy. Better that than stripped of their lands and reduced to migrant laborers or shanty-dwellers (as China embraces the free-trade principles that prevail in Latin America, with Bush’s encouragement.)