In the Nation, Christian Parenti reports from Daba, Chongqing, about how China’s disenfranchised farmers and workers are coping:
Da Ba is in many ways a typical Chinese village. Its center has a few blocks of tightly packed two- and three-story projects of socialist-style housing nestled along a dirty creek and a cramped valley crossroads. On the edge of town, the walls of farmhouse compounds are painted with bold red characters exhorting obedience to the one-child policy.
And as in many other places in China, the farmers of Da Ba are fighting to save their land from those who want to seize it in the name of progress and profit.
[…] Across China there is rising rural and urban protest–or, if you will, burgeoning class struggle. As the economy moves from Maoist socialism to a strange type of quasi-Maoist capitalism, farmers are fighting off land grabs, which, as in the case of Da Ba, are often linked to industry’s voracious appetite for space and resources. Typically, the land grabs involve local government officials working with large, mostly state-owned but partly private businesses.
The land struggles are just one part of a rural crisis that is also, by extension, an urban crisis. An estimated 200 million workers have left the countryside for cities in the past thirty years. Once in the cities, these displaced farmers cum urban workers often find themselves forced to battle against employers and local governments for basic rights and even unpaid wages.