Charter Member of the Sub-Media

April 13, 2005

Developments in China « China/Taiwan »

Via Drudge Report comes this account of a riot in Southeastern China. Reading his title, I didn't expect much, and nearly didn't follow the link.

I'm glad I did.

By this afternoon, three days after the riot, witnesses say crowds had convened in Huaxi Village in Zhejiang Province to gawk at a tableau of destroyed police cars and shattered windows. Police officers outside the village were reportedly blocking reporters from entering the scene but local people, reached by telephone, said villagers controlled the riot area.

"The villagers will not give up if there is no concrete action to move the factories away," said Mr. Lu, a villager who witnessed part of the confrontation and refused to give his full name. "The crowd is growing. There are at least 50,000 or 60,000 people."

But the riot described in Huaxi Village is seen as a symptom of the widening social unrest in the Chinese countryside that has become a serious concern for government leaders. Last year, tens of thousands of protesters in western Sichuan Province clashed with the police in a protest over a long-disputed dam project. Smaller rural protests are becoming commonplace and are often violent.

Huaxi Village is a few hours' drive south of Hangzhou, the provincial capital of coastal Zhejiang. It is a short distance from the Zhuxi Industrial Function Zone, the local industrial park that villagers say is home to 13 chemical factories.

"The air stinks from the factories," said a villager, Wang Yuehe. She said the local river was filled with pollutants that had contaminated surrounding farmland.

"We can't grow our crops. The factories had promised to do a good environmental job, but they have done almost nothing."

Mrs. Wang said that villagers had pooled their money for two years and sent representatives to file complaints at government petition offices in Zhejiang Province and in Beijing. "But there have been no results so far," she said.

A reporter for an English-language newspaper in Hong Kong, the South China Morning Post, managed to visit the riot scene and described overturned buses and shattered cars, adding that "a police uniform is draped over one car - a trophy." The reporter , whose account was published today, was detained by the police after leaving the village but released after her notes were confiscated.

So maybe it won't be the internet that brings freedom to China after all.

People, this really is serious.

The people in China did not become Communist out of altruism. They wanted to get filthy, stinking rich. They hung onto that for decades, because the leaders told them their sacrifices were paying off, and they were always just around the corner from true wealth.

When the people finally got sick of that, the government had no choice but to open up the economy. People grew rich, or at least had the opportunity to try; that was good enough for a while.

But people are dying in mines. People in the countryside are apparently being poisoned. And the rural poor are still poor, with no end in sight. They will not be poisoned just so the urban dwellers can get rich. Things will get worse, and riots will get more serious, and more threatening to the govt.

Which is a good thing...

...sort of. Because the more threatened the govt feels, the more they will feel pressured to deliver some concrete gift to the people to buy a few more years or decades of living at the top. The best gift they can think of would be bringing Taiwan back in...forcefully.

And the only other thing that would come close would be the military defeat of Japan.

Neither one bodes well for the stability and security of the globe...

Posted by Nathan at 09:13 PM | Comments (0)
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