Yu Jianrong (于建嵘): “Everyone Has a Microphone”

In Southern Metropolis Weekly, social scientist Yu Jianrong discusses the difficulties of preventing forced eviction and the communicative power of microblogging. Yu is a professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and a long-time opponent of forced eviction and relocation. The following is a partial translation of the profile of Yu in Southern Metropolis Weekly [translation by Don Weinland]. It seems as if Yu Jianrong is naturally adept in dealing with people. He laughs cheerfully without a scholar’s demeanor. He even jokes with petitioners just for the sake of joking, often leaving the upset and distressed in stitches of laughter. Petitioners come looking for him in groups because Yu Jianrong is famous. “He speaks the truth, he’s fair and at the very least he will not make any adulterations.” A petitioner by the name of Xu from Nanjing said he hopes Yu Jianrong can help expose the demolition and relocation problem in his hometown. Old Yu takes down their information and them has them tell their stories in front of a camera. Seeing petitioners to the door, he always comforts them, saying those (officials) are too terrible and they will pay for what they’ve done. All the information brought by the petitioners is taken into a “black information room” beside the reception room. Filling the two bookcases inside are reports from the masses archived by region, covering all 2,860 counties in the country. Silencing those officials
During the past year, he suddenly became very popular. Yu Jianrong has held lectures across the country. These classes on “social stability and public safety” have won him uncountable ovation. He speaks on the dangers of “rigid stability,” on the “extreme evils of the petitioning system” and even on the hidden dangers of historically unprecedented large-scale demolition and relocation. He says, “I know ...
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