Melissa Chan: Lessons Learned on the Road

Al Jazeera English’s Melissa Chan wrote a blog post providing more detail about the case of Yang Youde (“Farmer Yang”), who used a homemade cannon to repel land eviction teams. Her original report is here:

And from her blog, in which she describes encounters with local officials trying to convince her that the original reports on the incident in Chinese media were false:

A second official interjected, a Mr. Fan Chun, carrying a load of documents in hand. I welcomed the rare opportunity to sit down with officials to hear their side of the story. Far too often, we place calls to various government departments and never hear back from any of them. Mr. Fan allowed us to look over the documents, in one which mentioned the local government would stand to benefit by some $95 million US dollars by allowing the land development project to proceed.

“This is interesting! Can we photocopy this?” we asked.

“Er. No,” said Mr. Fan.

The documents quickly got pulled aside.

Mr. Fan then explained to us that China is a socialist society and farmers do not own property. The state owns property. Everything is collectivized. Therefore, Farmer Yang’s demand for compensation stands no ground.

The real estate market makes up 10% of China’s GDP.

Chan goes on to report that , in a case of mistaken identity, Yang’s brother was beaten with bricks by unidentified men and he is now blind in one eye (Chan’s blog post includes a graphic photo). Yang has also said he has been continually harassed since the visit from Al Jazeera reporters.