Three Dead in Chinese Bombings

Three people have now been reported killed in the bombs set off yesterday in Fuzhou, Jiangxi. From the Toronto Star:

At least three people died and seven were wounded in the blasts in the city of Fuzhou, according to state media. The bombings sent a mushroom-like plume of smoke towering over local government offices.

Two of the three blasts were confirmed to be car bombs.

[…] The bombs had been set by a disgruntled 52-year-old farmer who, with others, had waged a lengthy campaign to win compensation from the government for what they claimed was the illegal demolition of their homes.

The bomber, identified as Qian Mingqi, was reported killed in the blasts.

Qian had claimed in numerous blog posts on the Internet that the homes had been illegally seized by corrupt Communist Party officials in May 2002.

Shanghaiist has compiled details about the tragic life that led Qian Mingqi to set the bombs:

On his Sina Weibo profile, Qian has a picture of himself standing on Tiananmen Square. He describes himself thus in the About field: “I am healthy, mentally normal, and have never committed any crimes to date. My newly-built house was illegally and forcibly demolished, causing me massive losses. Ten years of fruitlessly trying to seek redress have forced me to go on a path I did not wish to take.”

Teaching himself how to use the internet, Qian also created multiple profiles on other microblog platforms, following lawyers, reporters, human rights defenders, academics, police departments and anyone else he thought might be able to help him.

The retweets on his various microblog profiles indicate that not only was Qian unable to get the attention of those he was following, he was exposed to many of the other injustices that go on daily in China — children getting kidnapped, old people attacked by police, migrant workers denied their wages, killing sprees in schools, and many other villagers, who like him, had their homes forcibly demolished.

Those stories appear to have led him to believe that unless he took drastic action for himself and others like him, his story would never see the light of day. And so, Qian began to hatch his plan to execute a protest in the most dramatic fashion he thought possible.

Qian’s plight has resonated with large numbers of other Chinese. The Hindu’s Ananth Krishnan notes that the response on Sina Weibo has been mostly sympathetic, with some even suggesting that his act was heroic:

A number of recent land rights cases have triggered heated debate in China, emerging as a leading source of social unrest. In many cases, local governments have been accused of colluding with real estate developers to illegally acquire farmland.

Jiangxi saw another high-profile land rights conflict last year, when three people set themselves on fire to protest the forced demolition of their home ….

Almost every message posted on the Weibo account of Fuzhou’s Public Security Bureau, or police authority, blamed the local government for the attack. “If you push the farmers so hard, they will take extreme measures,” one user wrote.

Others drew comparisons between Qian and Dong Cunrui, a Communist Party hero from the civil war in the 1940s.

Dong was celebrated as a hero of the People’s Liberation Army, and later became the subject of a popular war film. He sacrificed his life by blowing up a bunker with explosives — an act of martyrdom, he said, for “a new China.” He died on May 25, 1948, leaving some to wonder whether the timing of Qian’s act was more than a coincidence.

May 26, 2011 7:35 PM
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