Global Times’ Liang Chen revisits the “seesaw battle” over grave demolitions in Henan, which began last year with a heavy-handed campaign of land reclamation. Locals suspected that this was to make way for industrial and property development, rather than to restore farmland as officials claimed, and were outraged by its disregard for the traditional taboo against disturbing the dead. This led to sharp criticism of local authorities in state media, an online outcry including a Gangnam Style protest video, and a spate of guerrilla grave reconstruction, met in turn by orders that the new graves be removed. The struggle is not over yet: another wave of defiant rebuilding is expected ahead of next month’s Tomb-Sweeping Day.
At least 100,000 graves were rebuilt during the Spring Festival holiday, accounting for 7.7 percent of those leveled, official statistics from the Zhoukou Civil Affairs Bureau revealed.
The rebuilding of the graves comes as a counterattack after the controversial grave destruction campaign launched by the local government in February last year. In total, the campaign leveled over 2 million graves and reclaimed over 3 million hectares of farmland.
[…] The seesaw battle between the local government and the villagers continues today, highlighting the sensitivity of modern political actions when clashing with long-standing traditions.
[…] Tomb-Sweeping Day, a traditional holiday for honoring ancestors, will take place on April 4. Gong said he and other government officials are facing a lot of pressure as a new wave of grave rebuilding is expected around the day.
To prevent people from rebuilding graves, the local government plans to give out trees to villagers to commemorate Tomb-Sweeping Day. The idea is that villagers will plant the trees at the original spot of their ancestral graves as a marker and commemorate the dead ancestors under the tree
Global Times also recently profiled local official Zhao Keluo, who believes that he was removed from the Henan CPPCC as punishment for his vocal opposition to the tomb removals.