EARLIER THIS month, Chinese police shot and killed as many as 20 protesters (the numbers are in dispute) in Dongzhou village, near Hong Kong. The use of lethal force was unusual, but the underlying grievances were commonplace: powerless townspeople demonstrating against local government practices that endanger their meager existence.
Economic inequality is growing in China. It is fueling an increasing number of desperate attempts by poor farmers and workers to hold on to what little they have. In 2004, there were, by government accounts, about 74,000 public disturbances nationwide, an increase of about 20% from 2003. This year, several instances of government repression of popular protests captured the world media’s attention. In Taishi, Guangdong province, villagers exercising their right to recall corrupt local officials were beaten and harassed. In Huankantou, Zhejiang province, two elderly women were killed when police suppressed a demonstration against a polluting factory. In Shengyou, Hebei province, thugs bused in by party bosses set upon townspeople protesting a land grab by an electric power company.
The list goes on and on.
– “Police chief detained after 3 men gunned down” from the Shanghai Daily.
– The government newspaper of Guangdong, Southern Daily, published the official statement from the Shanwei city government on the Dongzhou Killings (in Chinese).
– an interesting political analysis in Chinese on the Dongzhou killings, which has been circulated in Chinese cyberspace.
– “Chinese Media Print Slain Villagers’ Names” from AP.
– “Village killings that China concealed” from the Sunday Times.
– Sam Crane’s Useless Tree blog.