Slavery, Corruption, and the Rural Poor

Jottings from a Granite Studio questions whether the forced labor at the Shanxi brick kilns, and other examples of in China, can really be blamed on the fact that the Chinese countryside is still poor:

I’m tired of China blaming corruption on “poverty” or “lack of development.” Say it with me, people: Corruption in China is a systemic problem made worse because authorities are not responsible nor answerable to those they govern. [Full text]

Time Magazine has also written about the case and its implications for civil society in China. Meanwhile, Beijing Newspeak bemoans the reaction from some of his journalist colleagues to a similarly horrific case, in which a teacher was sentenced to death for raping his students in Lanzhou:

The journalist in question began his case as to why he could not possibly get more information by bemoaning the lack of substance to a Sichuan newspaper report, which had just been copied down by a Xinhua journalist in the Lanzhou bureau. This is something I do symphathise with, but it is the English-language’s journalist to push them to find out more details. Then he decided to raise his hand, shield the side of his mouth nearest to his colleagues, and whisper, “This kind of thing is quite common in rural areas. People there are very uneducated.” He moved on to say how he didn’t want to exaggerate the story for the sake of the children who had suffered and that they should be allowed to forget. The final excuse was predictable and one I suspected was coming all along. “It would not be good for China’s image.” [Full text]

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