RIOTS IN CHINA
in Xiamen in 2007 In one of the biggest protests, about 30,000 people demonstrated in Guizhou Province in 2008 over what the government said was a bevy of grievances with local officials. Thousands more took part in ethnic riots in the Xinjiang region in 2009 and Tibet 2008. Tiananmen Square in 1989 is the most well-known protest in China.
Riots have broken out for all kinds of reasons. In November 2004, a toll booth became the site of riot in Guangdong after a woman said she was overcharged to use the bridge. In December 2004, seven people were killed and dozens were injured in a riot in Da Lang village in Guangdong Province southern China after police allegedly beat to death a relative of a student injured in traffic accident, following a dispute over compensation. In November 2004, two police officers were killed in Wanrong County in Shanxi Province when enraged construction workers attacked a police station after a traffic dispute. In July 2004, a suicide bomber killed himself and a local official over inadequate compensation for land appropriation in the Yi Autonomous County of Ebian.
In June 2005, riots and looting broke out in Chizhou in Anhui Province, 250 mile southeast of Shanghai, after a collision between a bicycle ridden a 22-year-old student and Toyota sedan carrying a powerful hospital manager. No one was hurt in the collision but an argument ensued as to who was fault. Because the students reportedly damaged a side view mirror on the car he was beaten to a pulp by the manager’s body guards. Witnesses began spreading word of what happened and people began gathering the streets and a riot broke out.
During eight hours of mayhem police cars were set on fire, paramilitary troops were pelted with stones and a supermarket was looted. The hospital manager, Wu Junxing, was taken to a police substation, where a mob formed. The mob regarded Wu as a typical corrupt official and were particularly outraged by his arrogant, cavalier attitude (in one episode he reportedly dismissed the local police as bumpkins) and demanded justice. While Wu was in the substation the mob torched his sedan.
In December 2004, huge riots broke out in a village of migratory workers in Guangdong Province southern China after police allegedly beat to death a 15-year-old migrant accused of stealing a bicycle. Hong Kong newspapers reported that more than 50,000 migrant participated in the riot. Mainland Chinese sometimes stage protests in Hong Kong.
Canyu, an overseas Chinese-language website (http://www.canyu.org) that often reports on protests. In this website also see: 1) Hui, Minorities; 2) Protests Against Corruption, Corruption; 3) Tax Revolts, Local Government and Taxes; 4) Labor Revolts. Labor; Economics; 5) Farmer Revolts, Agriculture; 6) AIDS, Health, Government; 6) Elections, Government; 7) Protests Against Dams, Environmental Protests; Environmental Movement, Nature. 8) Protests in Inner Mongolia, Northern Minorities; 9) Falun Gong, Religion
Riots in Wenzhou
In October 2004, a poor porter carrying a bag on a sidewalk in the city of Wenzhou accidently brushed up against a woman, leaving a small amount of mud on here paints leg. Words were exchanged The husband of the women began to push the porter around. After saying he was a high-ranking official the man began beating the porter with a stick and threatened to kill him. By this time a crowd had gather and word began to spread about what was happening.
A mob quickly formed in Wenzhou’s city square. It didn’t matter that the man was not really a government official ( he was fruit salesmen). By nightfall tens of thousands of people were in the square. The city hall and a police van were set on fire and vehicles belonging to government officials were pummeled. A taxi driver told the New York Times, “the loss of control happened instantly. Suddenly the police were nobody and the people were in charge.” Rioting lasted until midnight and had largely broken up on its own before paramilitary troops arrived at around 3:00am.
The porter told the New York Times that the man called him a bumpkin and he responded by saying “I work like this so that my daughter and son can dress better than I do, so don’t look down on me. I sell my strength just as a prostitute sells her body.” The women’s husband took offense to this remark. The woman began slapping the porter and her husband began beating him on the legs and back with a pole until he collapsed on the ground.
Riots in Dongzhou
In December 2005, at least three demonstrators — and maybe as many as 20 — were shot and killed in Dongzhou, Guangdong Province. The demonstrators had blocked a highway. They were angry about compensation of only $3 per family for land confiscated from them to build a coal-fired power plant and wind-power turbines and develop a lake essential for the town’s feng shui. According to Chinese government sources a “chaotic mob” began throwing Molotov cocktails, fireworks, and blasting caps at police who were forced to “open fire in alarm.” The government blamed the demonstrators for the incident but at least one police official was punished. Fifty Chinese scholars called for an official inquiry on the Internet.
The Dongzhou protest may be the most deadly incident since Tiananmen Square. It was also significant in that the protestors were enraged enough to hurl explosives at police. One resident of Dongzhou told the New York Times, “From about 7 p.m. the police started firing tear gas into the crowds, but this failed to scare people. Later we heard more than 10 explosions and thought they were just detonators, so nobody was scared. At about 8 p.m. they started using guns, shooting bullets into the ground, but not really targeting anybody. Finally at about 10 p.m. they started killing people.”
Another resident told the New York Times, “I live not far from the scene, and I was running as fast as I could. I dragged one of the people killed, a man in his 30s who was shot in the chest. Initially I thought he might survive, because he was still breathing, but he was panting heavily, and as soon as I pulled him aside, he died.” Another said, “there were seven or eight bodies killed by a spray of gunfire that fell into ditch. The next day going up along the ditch deep into the grass villagers found the dead bodies. Some of the dead were shot from distance first and then finished off at close range..”
Afterwards the government engaged in thorough cover up of the event to make sure information about it didn’t leak out, The entire town was cordoned off with police road blocks and patrols. House to house searches were conducted. People were hauled away for interrogation. Announcements were blasted from loudspeakers to obey the government. Residents said in telephone interviews that security forces rewarded them with bribes if they cooperated and beat them if the told their story to regional or national officials. There were also reports of corpses being withheld presumably because they were so riddled with bullets their presence would contradict the government’s version of the events. Families of the dead were rewarded with cash payments of about $15,000 if they said their loved ones died from explosions caused by bombs hurled by protesters rather than gunfire from police.
Riots in China in 2007
In July 2007, riot police clashed with protesters that besieged government offices in Chongqing’s Youyang County after the family protesting the death their son — a student stabbed to death in school — was rouged up outside government offices.
In June 2007, hundreds of students from universities in Zhengzhou, Henan Province battled police and burned cars after street inspectors beat up a female student. It was not clear why the female student was beat up. Students protests have been rare since Tiananmen square.
Riots in 2008
In July 2008, two people were killed in Menglian county in Yunnan Province when 500 to 1000 Dai rubber growers armed with knives attacked police, injuring 41 officers and damaging eight police cars. Menglian county has a large minority population. The protesters were angry with a local rubber firm over the sale of their crops.
In September 2008, riots broke out in Jishou, Hunan Province over a banned investment scheme. Residents and security forces clashed for two days with protestors blocking roads and railroads after an illegal fund-raising company endorsed by the government failed to pay inventors back as promised
In November 2008, thousands of people attacked a police station, overturning and burning a police car, in the southern city of Shenzhen after a 31-year-old motorcyclist was killed driving through a police checkpoint.
Many of the protesters in Xiamen where middle class
In February 2008, three people set themselves on fire in Beijing over what police described at desperate attempt to draw attention to their “personal complaints.”
In the autumn of 2008, there have been a number of high-profile taxi strikes across China prompted by low fares, rising costs and what drivers said was the collusion of corrupt officials and greedy fleet owners. The drivers, some of whom smashed cabs of those who would not strike, relented after the government acceded to some of their demands.
Train Protest in Shanghai
The protests in Shanghai over the construction of a maglev train through a residential area were unusual in that they were large, fairly well organized and embraced many middle-class people. The protestors organized and spread the world of their protests by handing out flyers with word like “electromagnetic comparability”; making well-researched PowerPoint presentations; posting photos and information about police positions on the Internet, and whispering to supporters, “Do you know that we’re going to take a stroll this weekend?” The “strolls” were made up of thousands of office workers, company managers, young families and elderly people.
Protesters were protesting the trains bringing noise, vibrations and radiation to their neighborhoods. They gathered in one area, shouting slogans like “Reject the maglev!” and “Protect our homes!” and broke up after an hour or so and regrouped at another location. First they gather near the train, later they met at well kwon places in Shanghai, including some places where tourists gathered. The police felt a little intimidated and had trouble cracking down on the protesters because they were affluent and educated.
It is unlikely that the maglev will be scrapped but officials did make some concessions: the section to Hangzhou was scrapped; one section was rerouted two mile to avoid a residential area; and another section will be built underground.
Environmental Protest in Xiamen in 2007 organized through the Internet and text messages
Toy Factory Protest in China
In November 2008, hundreds of workers laid off from the Kai Da toy company rioted in Dongguan, Guangdong Province over a dispute about severance pay. They protesters clashed with police and attacked the offices of a toy factory executive. The Guangzhou Daily reported: Rioters “smashed one police vehicle and four police patrol cars...fought with security guards...and entered factory offices, broke windows and destroying equipment.”
A 36-year-old machinist told the Los Angeles Times, “We saw the police beating five workers with sticks, several of them unconscious...Then many workers rushed out and surrounded them, Later there were thousands of people there. They smashed police cars, doors and computers.” After the protests workers received about $900 in severance pay.
In July 2008, riots broke out in a town in Wengan County in Guizhou Province in southwestern China over the death of a teenage girl, the involvement of a son of a an official in the death and a police cover up. More an 30,000 people took to the streets, torching police cars and government offices. Local people believed the 17-year-old girl, Li Shufen, whose body was pulled from a river in late June, was raped and murdered. The police reported that she had drowned after committing suicide by jumping into a river.
After the initial protests large numbers of security forces were ordered to enter the town. Paramilitary police lined the streets; loudspeakers blasted messages for suspected rioter to turn themselves in. Over 300 people were detained, 100 were put under “criminal detention,” including 39 gang members.
Wengan has a reputation of being a troubled town fill with corruption, unchecked criminal gangs, bombing attacks and public resentment towards the police over unsolved crimes and harsh crackdowns over dam resettlements, disputed mines and forced home removals. There had been attacks on government offices and confrontations with police before. Many feel the incident with the girls was simply what unpopped the cork for a big “mass incident.”
The father of the girl tried to petition for help in the provincial capital and once was badly beaten up by thugs after a confrontation with police. According to police the victim was last seen with a female classmate and two men. A local official said, “the incident was instigated by a few people who had ulterior motives or even by some evil forces.” The police initially said they would reopen the investigation of the death the said the son of the official was not involve and no rape had occurred
Authorities initially tried to suppress news about the protests. But a number io cell phone camera shots and videos that showed police firing rubber bullets and badly beaten teenagers appeared on YouTube and other Internet sites making it hard to cover up the events.
In November 2008, two men were given prison sentences of 15 and 16 years for arson and attracting local government offices and four others were given sentences between two years and seven years for attacking state authorities and disturbing social order in connection with the Wengan riots
Riot in Gansu
In November 2008, a crowd of about 1,000 people attacked government petition office in Longnan, Gansu Province in northwest China, smashing cars and cashing with police. YourTube footage showed police trying to restore order while being pelted with stones.
The protest involved more than 10,000 people. A core group of 30, angry about the loss of their homes in a resettlement scheme, were joined by hundreds of others outside the petition office. A hotel owner told Reuters, “There were only a few thousand petitioners, but police fired tear gas, which made women and children sick. This made the others angry.” According to statement on the Longnan city website: the petitioners “were provoked by a small minority of people with ulterior motives? The office’s “staff and police were beaten by some criminals, leading to the injury of more than 60 officials, police and people.”
Protesters were upset by the local government’s decision to move its administrative headquarters from one city to another. A local newspaper and Xinhua, the official news agency, said the skirmishes, in Longnan, a prefectural capital in southern Gansu Province, and involved 2,000 people. Witnesses reached by phone, however, said the crowds had swelled to more than 10,000 and many of the protesters were still battling the second day after the protest began. Thirty people were arrested. More than 70 people were seriously injured. [Source: Andrew Jacobs, New York Times, November 18, 2008]
Although the state media did not fully explain the cause of the unrest, residents cited the plan to move the government offices. The move, they said, would lower real estate values and deprive Longnan of desperately needed jobs. Residents also said the disturbances were provoked by economic distress, rampant corruption and a lack of transparency in the local Communist Party. Officials have said the decision to move the administrative headquarters from Longnan was based on the city’s location in a seismically unstable area. The earthquake that devastated parts of Sichuan in May, they point out, claimed more than 300 lives in Gansu, which borders Sichuan. Some residents have said that if the area is so dangerous, Longnan’s 2.6 million people should be moved as well. [Ibid}
According to a statement issued by the municipal government, the trouble began Monday morning when more than 30 people whose homes had been demolished gathered at the city’s Communist Party offices to petition for compensation. By the evening, thousands of others had joined them. Dissatisfied with the pace of discussions, the petitioners began attacking officials and the police with rocks and metal batons, the government statement said. Then they charged the building, breaking windows and burning whatever they could, including motorcycles and bicycles, it said.[Ibid}
Around 10 p.m., government officials spoke to the petitioners with loudspeakers trying to persuade them to stop but failed, the statement said. The law enforcement department then decided to handle the problem immediately and controlled the situation. Witnesses said armed police officers from the provincial capital used tear gas to subdue the rioters, some of whom were tossing bricks and burning cars. On the second day of the protests, the witnesses said, smoke was still rising from the city center. [Ibid}
Gansu Governor Meets with Demonstrators
The governor of Gansu met with participants of the riot, according to the protesters and media reports, as the government sought to highlight how much it was doing in the face of a shaky economy and an increasingly restive population. [Source: Lauren Keane, Washington Post, November 22, 2008]
The meeting between the governor Gansu and more than a dozen people was billed in the official state media as an example of a high-level politician reaching out to hear the concerns of ordinary Chinese. But two of the people who attended the meeting said Friday that they were the only ones present who had participated in the protest against a government resettlement plan and that the rest were local officials.
Zhang Huilin, 64, a retired laborer and one those present told the Washington Post, “Of course I'm glad that [the governor] came and listened to us,” said. “But I don't know whether they'll take our concerns to heart. If they don't, if they're just doing this for show instead of to solve the real problem, then this will only grow into an even bigger issue.”
The other protester, Wang Qingyu, 65, was quoted by the New China News Agency quoted as saying, “Now I know better thegovernment's policy, and I will tell the others.” But she told the Washington Post what she actually said was, "I didn't dare mention in that meeting that everyone in this town wants Wang Yi to be fired," Wang said Friday, referring to the local party secretary. "We heard he has a good relationship with the provincial party secretary. If I'd said that, I'd be arrested just like all those other people yesterday." Wang added that officials had come to her neighborhood that morning and asked her neighbors to sign statements promising they would not protest again.
The move by Gansu officials followed a similar government response to a protest in Chongqing this month. The Chongqing party secretary, Bo Xilai, met with striking cabdrivers to hear their concerns about high fees, fuel shortages, unlicensed taxis and traffic fines.
Riots in China in 2009
In June 2009, violent protest brokes out in Shishou city in Hubei Province after a man’s suspicious death in a government-linked hotel. More than 10,000 people were involved, with some of them clashing with police. There were reports of fires, damage to police vehicles and demonstrators striking police. The victim, a 24-year-old chef named Tu Yungao, was found dead outside the hotel after he fell from the third floor. His death was blamed on gangster or the owner of the hotel, who is friendly with the city’s mayor. The family of the victim was given $44,000 in compensation.
In August 2009, an executive was beaten to death and over a 100 hundred people were injured at a protest by 30,000 steel workers outside the Tonghua Iron and Steel plant over a planned merger deal that would leave many workers without jobs. The executive a killed by workers over resentment that he earned $440,000 a year while some workers earned as little $35 a month. Protesters prevented an ambulance from entering the plant to help the executive.
Three People Set Themselves on Fire Near Tiananmen Square
In February 2009, three people set themselves on fire in a car near Tiananmen Square in Beijing. The three — two men and a woman — are believed to have come to the capital to complain to central authorities about personal grievances, Chinese state media and police said. One of the men and the woman were taken to hospital with non-critical injuries, according to a statement from the Beijing public security bureau. It made no mention of the other man but the official New China News Agency said an ambulance had taken him to hospital. [Source: Tania Branigan, The Guardian, February 25, 2009]
The trio ignited the blaze at the crossroads of the popular shopping street Wangfujing and Chang'an Avenue, the city's main thoroughfare, which runs to Tiananmen Square. The square is kept under tight security because it is a magnet for protest. According to the statement, police stopped the vehicle, which had out-of-town licence plates, because they detected something “abnormal.” “When they were advancing to examine it, the inside of the car caught fire and it was swiftly extinguished,” it said.
The Beijing information office said that the three people came to the capital for “personal petitions.” A witness told Reuters that “some kind of incendiary device” exploded when police wrenched open the door of a small silvery-grey car, with what looked like three Chinese flags attached to its roof. The apparently limp body of a man pulled from the car was laid out on the street, while police pulled a screaming woman from the passenger side.
Unnamed sources told Reuters that at least one of the men might have come from the restive Uighur minority in north-west Xinjiang province, which saw fatal attacks on police last year. The date of the attack — the Tibetan new year — had led many to suspect that the incident might be a protest against Chinese policies in Tibet.
In 2001, five people set themselves on fire in Tiananmen Square. The government blamed the banned spiritual movement Falun Gong, which denied its followers were involved. Five years later, a man also set himself on fire there to protest not being paid, according to media reports.
Nankang Riot and Arrest of Blogger Who Posted Images of It
In June 2009, violent demonstrations followed the government's efforts to impose a new tax and other restrictions on the furniture industry, a mainstay of the local economy. Witnesses said a dozen police cars were overturned during the protest by hundreds of furniture workers. In the face of this unrest, the local government has backed down on its taxation plans. [Source: Jonathan Watts The Guardian, June 17, 2009]
Chinese police detained a blogger who posted images of the aftermath of a riot online, prompting concerns of a crackdown on citizen journalists. The man, whose online name was Zuihulu, went missing after he uploaded video images of smashed, upturned police cars in Nankang, Jiangxi province, on Tudou, a Chinese video-sharing website similar to YouTube. In the short video - which has since spread widely through Fanfou, a Chinese form of Twitter - Zuihulu appears to record events with his mobile phone as he rides past crowds of protesters on the back of a motorbike, describing what he sees in a thick regional dialect. Contacted by the Guardian before he went missing, Zuihulu said: “I am just an ordinary netizen. I am here because I am interested in it. I will keep watching the situation. Please keep looking at my page on Fanfou.”
MAJOR PROTEST AND RIOTS IN CHINA IN 2011
In the spring of 2011, China was rocked by a number of serious incidents including suicide bombings in several cities and prolonged confrontations between protestors and the People’s Armed Police in Inner Mongolia and Guangdong Province. In March 2011, at least 2,000 Yunnan Province residents demonstrated against their evictions to make way for a power station. In April, 2,000 Shanghai residents flipped a police car and set motorcycles afire after urban security guards beat a migrant worker and his wife. In May, Mongolians in Xilinhot and Hohhot staged widespread protests after an ethnic Han driver killed an ethnic Mongol herder. In June, a crowd said to number in the thousands rioted in Guangdong Province after a peaceful protest over a wage dispute spun out of control. The Guardian reported: “Although the causes seem to have been very different in each case, the spate of incidents underlines the challenge that authorities face in preventing widespread grievances bursting out.” According to CNN: China's officialdom is coming to grips with the increasing uneasiness of millions of citizens who are no longer content to meekly follow everything it decrees.”
AP reported in June 2011: “Several apparently unrelated cases of unrest have erupted across China in recent weeks, some involving migrant workers. Migrant workers tend to perform the most dangerous and least desirable work in China and can be vulnerable to abuse and discrimination by authorities and residents.” There also seems to be a lack of trust between security forces and citizens at a time of growing unease over corruption, abuse of power and a worsening income divide.” [Source: AP, June 20, 2011]
The government's response has been to meet them with overwhelming force. Such stopgap measures will grow increasingly ineffective unless fundamental tensions between citizens and the communist government are addressed, Liu Shanyin, who studies social unrest at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told AP. "If these problems are not addressed, the government's legitimacy will come into question and political and criminal forces could get involved, leading to big trouble," Liu said.
Jaime FlorCruz of CNN reported in May 2011: That China should experience a spike in popular protests is hardly surprising. It is going through wrenching socioeconomic changes. Problems loom, among them unemployment, high inflation, corruption, onerous taxes, the rising cost of education, health and housing. "There has been dissatisfaction over rising prices but no action until now," Li said. "Officials feared what happened in Shanghai might lead to a nationwide movement. That's why it was handled swiftly." [Source: Jaime FlorCruz, CNN, May 1, 2011]
Inner Mongolia See Minorities
Riots in Guangdong Over Roughed Up Street Vendor in June 2011
Jasmine Revolution “Protest” on Wangfujing Street
in Beijing, see separate article under history In June 2011, riots broke out in the Xintang township in Zengcheng city in Guangdong Province over a dispute between security officers and two migrant street vendors in an industrial area filled with garment factories, The Associated Press reported. Onlookers, many of them also migrant workers, apparently sided with the vendors, and photographs posted on the popular Sina Weibo service, a Chinese version of Twitter, showed people throwing bottles, overturned police cars and ransacked government offices.
Tensions grew over two days as migrants from Sichuan province rushed to the area, triggering violent clashes on June 12th . Tania Branigan wrote in The Guardian, “Rioters burned police and fire vehicles in a third day of unrest in southern China's manufacturing heartlands, witnesses have reported. Hong Kong broadcasters reported that armed police fired teargas as they sought to disperse the crowd and detained at least a dozen demonstrators.” [Source: Tania Branigan, The Guardian, June 13, 2011]
“The clashes began on after a fracas between security officers and a pregnant street vendor in Xintang, Guangdong province. Most protesters were migrant workers like the vendor. Police in Guangdong said they had arrested 25 people after violence broke out following a row between chengguan — low-level law enforcement officers — and a pregnant vendor during a crackdown on street stalls. Xinhua said that Wang Lianmei fell during the dispute, while other accounts said that the chengguan had shoved her. The officers have a reputation for thuggish behaviour. Other migrant workers from her province, Sichuan, quickly gathered, with some attacking police vehicles called to the scene with bottles, bricks and stones.
“Another crowd gathered the next day as rumours spread that police had killed Wang's husband, Tang Xuecai, and that she had been seriously injured. Local media said he appeared at a press conference on the third day of the riots to say that his wife and their baby were fine and that he was happy with the government's handling of the case.” "The case was just an ordinary clash between street vendors and local public security people but was used by a handful of people who wanted to cause trouble," said Ye Niuping, the local mayor, urging residents not to spread "concocted rumours".
The South China Morning Post said Xintang appeared to have calmed down on the afternoon of the third day of unrest, with armed police and armoured vehicles patrolling the area, but that as many as 1,000 later gathered despite the heavy police presence. "There were many people out on the streets late last night, shouting and trying to create chaos. Some of them even smashed police vehicles," said a worker from the nearby Fengcai clothing factory, adding that bosses barred employees from leaving the plant. An employee at a hotel in the area said police had told them to stay indoors. State news agency Xinhua reported that by four days after the vendor incident occurred officials had sent work groups to villages, factories and residential communities to set the record straight.
"There is a lot of pent up anger and frustration among ordinary people — not just migrant workers," Geoff Crothall of Hong Kong's China Labour Bulletin, told The Guardian."There are many towns in Guangdong which are still very much [divided between] locals and outsiders. Migrant workers are still doing the lowest paid, dirtiest jobs and suffer discrimination on a daily basis. That's going to cause resentment and anger to build up."
In June 2011, AP reported, “Informers who help identify participants the Xitang could be rewarded with cash, honorary titles and a chance to gain official urban residency status, an official announcement has said. The police notice, published on the website of the Zengcheng Daily newspaper, indicates authorities are having trouble tracking down those behind the violence. Authorities are offering up to $1,500 (£900) in cash together with "outstanding migrant worker" titles and urban residency permits that allow better access to schools, subsidised housing, healthcare and other public services. "The public security departments call on the broad masses of city residents not to be incited by people with ulterior motives, but to keenly struggle against criminal lawbreakers and actively reveal the identities of these criminal lawbreakers," said the notice. [Source: AP, June 20, 2011]
In July 2011, it was announced that 11 people had been jailed for their role in the riots sparked by abuse of a pregnant street hawker.
Riots in Chaozhou, Guangdong Over Unpaid Wages in June 2011
In June 2011 hundreds of migrant workers clashed with police in the town Guxiang in Chaozhou city in southern Guangzhou following a dispute over unpaid wages. Jing Gao wrote in the Ministry of Tofu blog, “It was started by a hideous act of violence on a migrant worker. On June 1, 18-year-old worker Xiong Hanjiang from Sichuan province went with his parents to Huayi Porcelain Factory in the town Guxiang, Chaozhou city in southern Guangzhou province and asked the employer for his past due wages. During the process, Xiong Hanjiang got into a fight with Su, the factory owner. Su hit Xiong's head with a wooden stool and ordered his underlings to cut Xiong's wrists and ankles and cripple him. Three suspects, including Su, were arrested by the police on the 5th. However, according to a microblog post, instead of penalizing or incriminating them, police released some of them after receiving US$460 as hush money. [Source: Jing Gao, Ministry of Tofu, June 8, 2011]
“Indignant, Xiong's family called on 200 of their fellow provincials who also worked in the town of Guxiang to gather at the town hall. The local government officials did not respond to the anger of the migrant workers. As a result, the 200 migrant workers vented their furor on the cars and small businesses nearby. Three cars were wrecked, one was set on fire and burnt. Nine of the mob were taken away by the police. However, the incident did not subside in the least.”
The violence provoked locals in the town. “On the Sina microblog, some native Guxiang residents called for a revenge. Suddenly the locals and the provincials became divided by the poisonous animosity. According to Hong Kong-based Apple Daily... migrant workers wandered on the streets of Guxiang, burning stores, smashing cars and hitting innocent people. Martial law has been imposed on the entire town...Schools have been closed, industrial production halted. Ordinary people mostly stayed home. The few men who did go out were armed with batons. Guxiang became a ghost town. Rumor even has it that migrant workers and provincials would detonate gas stations. We can never let outsiders bully us! Innocent locals getting beaten has aroused the fighting spirit of people in Guxiang...Each household was informed by the township committee to send a man between the age of 18 to 55 to the self-defense army. All self-defense troops have worn red ribbons on their arms to distinguish themselves from outsiders and begun to patrol the streets. By their side are the large number of riot policemen stationed in most corners of the town.”
“The problem of wage arrears is endemic in construction sites and factories across China. A report from the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics reveals that by the end of 2008, there was a total of 225.42 million migrant workers in China, and about 5.8 percent of them did not get all due wages before the Chinese New Year.”
Lichuan Riots in June 2011
In June 2011, an estimated 2,000 protesters attacked government headquarters in Lichuan, Hubei Province , after a local politician who had complained about official corruption died in police custody. Images of the protests showed armored personnel carriers on the streets and security forces beating protesters.
Michael Wines wrote in the New York Times, “In Lichuan, a city of about 850,000, around 2,000 protesters stormed government headquarters to protest the death of a legislator, Ran Jianxin, a member of the local People’s Congress who had been investigating accusations of corruption in a city-backed land deal. Mr. Ran, 49, was reported to have been under interrogation by the police or prosecutors when he died on June 4.... Mr. Ran was arrested May 26 on bribery charges, which his family contends were concocted in an effort to silence his anticorruption investigation. Xinhua, China’s official news agency, quoted a cousin as saying that Mr. Ran’s body bore signs of an “unnatural death.” [Source: Michael Wines, New York Times, June 12, 2011]
“Photos posted online that purport to show his bloodied corpse set off a large demonstration on by crowds throwing eggs, bottles and garbage at city buildings. The protest drew a large contingent of the paramilitary People’s Armed Police and columns of armored vehicles. When protesters besieged government offices a local resident said they smashed a sign reading "Serve the People," probably the most famous slogan of the Chinese Communist Party.”
“At least 1,000 riot police officers were patrolling the streets of Lichuan after the protests. Two city officials have been detained in connection with Mr. Ran’s death, the Communist Party newspaper Global Times reported. Two others, a local prosecutor and a deputy director of the city’s Communist Party, have lost their jobs, according to Agence France-Presse.”
Before the protests, people were upset over the seizure of land. The New York Times reported that “discontent was palpable.” One farming family described how the local government had seized its land. "We got 32,000 renminbi per mu," or $4,900 per 667 square meters, or 0.16 acre, said the wife. Five mu were gone, and the remaining five would go soon, she said. "We heard they are trying to get 500 mu of land to do something, no one knows what," she said. [Source: Didi Kirsten Tatlow, New York Times, June 15, 2011]
Did they protest?" It’s no use," she said. Did she at least feel it was an acceptable deal? She gave a disparaging look. "No. It’s very little money, because the land is gone forever. We can’t grow anything to eat anymore. We’ll have to look for work in the city," she said. "This place is too, too black," said another person over dinner, using a common term to describe corruption. She also asked that her name be withheld, fearful of retribution in a city where at least some people last week felt the slogan "Serve the People" was better off smashed to the ground.
Zhejiang Riots in June 2011
In mid June 2011, AP reported: “Chinese security forces mobilised to suppress protests in eastern China, a monitoring group and eyewitnesses said, in the latest bout of unrest gripping parts of the country. The unrest in Taizhou, Zhejiang province, broke out on Tuesday after the head of a local village government confronted petrol station staff during talks over land compensation fees that the station's owner was due to pay villagers, the reports said.”
“Within hours, hundreds of fellow residents of Rishanfen village had surrounded the petrol station, blocked an adjacent airport expressway, and seized a man who had struck the village leader, according to the owner of a nearby factory, who witnessed the events. Riot police clashed with villagers, said the factory owner, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Reinforcements arrived on Wednesday and officers detained about a dozen people, including the chief, other village officials and anyone found with images of the protest on their mobile phones, the man said.”
As with many of the protests across China, the Taizhou incident appears rooted in disagreements over compensation for land seized for development. The Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy said villagers squeezed by soaring inflation had been hoping for an increase in payments from businesses in the industrial park, including the gas station. The factory owner, however, said many believed that compensation offered by the petrol station had been embezzled by the former head of Rishanfen, now the local Communist party secretary — a much more powerful position.
Microbloggers and Protests Over Trees in Nanjing in March 2011
Jaime FlorCruz of CNN reported: “In March 2011 in Nanjing, citizens “tied green ribbons around wutong trees along a major road after they learned that city leaders were planning to uproot them. The trees, some of which have lined the streets since the 1930s, were to be removed to make way for a subway construction project. [Source: Jaime FlorCruz, CNN, May 1, 2011]
Residents protested. "The Wutong trees are not your private property," wrote one microblogger on Sina.com. "We citizens have the right to know what's happening to them ... And if you asked us, the answer is 'no.' Why don't you understand that history is vital to a city and that trees have feelings?"
Netizens initiated an online campaign involving tens of thousands of microblog users. Days later, the city government suspended the plan to move the trees.
Violence at a Pro-Mao Event
In September 2011, Want China Rimes reported: “A fight between liberal intellectuals and pro-Mao activists broke out recently in Luoyang, Henan province when tempers flared over heated discussion of the legacy of former leader Mao Zedong and the impact of his policies on China. According to Hong Kong's Oriental Daily, the incident erupted ago when several senior intellectuals proclaimed that Mao "was a tyrant who left millions of people to starve to death," in response to a speech delivered during a rally by hundreds of pro-Mao activists in Luoyang. [Source: Hsu Shang-li Want China Times, September 27, 2011]
The intellectuals were reportedly slapped, pushed and kicked by several of the young pro-Mao activists. Subsequently, the pro-Mao group called via the internet for a national campaign to "educate" liberal-leaning Chinese. According to the Oriental Daily, the planned event included singing "red songs" praising the Communist party and attracted numerous pro-Mao activists from Jiangsu, Shanxi and Henan provinces. During the rally, some retired soldiers delivered speeches lauding Mao Zedong Thought, receiving warm reactions from the audience. At the same time, several senior intellectuals insisted that Mao was a despot.
Reports claim that some of the activists then shouted "teach the right wing a lesson," while several young activists attacked two of the liberal intellectuals.In the days following, left wing pro-Mao website Mao Zedong Flag Net published an article reporting on the incident, adding, "From today, we are awakened to fight to the death against the right wing." The article also called on people throughout China who support Mao Zedong Thought to take action. "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth," the article adds.
Left wing, pro-Mao gatherings in Luoyang are usually large and popular. According to Hong Kong's Asiaweek, a Mao Zedong fad has re-emerged in China this year, the 35th anniversary of his death. However, since the beginning of this year, left wing groups have begun expressing discontent, saying their activity is frequently suppressed by authorities.
Farmers Riot in Guangdong Over Land Seizure in September 2011
In September 2011, Andrew Jacobs wrote in the New York Times, “Rioters in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong have besieged government buildings, attacked police officers and overturned SWAT team vehicles during protests against the seizure of farmland, said officials in Shanwei, a city that skirts the South China Sea not far from Hong Kong. According to a government Web site, hundreds of people blocked an important highway while others mobbed the local headquarters of the Communist Party and a police station in the city of Lufeng, injuring a dozen officers. Some witnesses, posting anonymous accounts online, put the number of rioters at more than 1,000. [Source: Andrew Jacobs, New York Times, September 23, 2011]
The protests continued two days later, with farmers gathered in front of a government building banging gongs and holding aloft signs that said “Give us back our farmland” and “Let us continue farming,” Reuters reported. The authorities say the violence escalated after rumors spread that the police had killed a girl. At least four people were arrested, including a man officials accused of instigating the crowd.
In Lufeng, the protests were just the most dramatic manifestation of a long-running battle over land that residents say their ancestors reclaimed from the sea. According to a local Web site, the Lufeng city government has already sold off more than 800 acres of the property for industrial parks and high-priced housing. The proffered compensation per acre, villagers said, has been barely enough to buy a new bed.”Wake up, my neighbors, if we don’t unite now, the land of our ancestors will be sold off to the last square meter! If we don’t unite now, our children will be homeless!” read one posting on the site. “We will have no where to bury our parents or raise our children!”
The latest seized plots were sold to a developer for about $156 million, according to The South China Morning Post, which first reported the sale and seizure. According to the company’s Web site, the complex is to be called “Country Garden” after the name of the developer. “To shape a prosperous future through our conscience and social responsibility,” is one of the company’s mottoes.
News of the demonstrations and photos and videos were quickly deleted from the Web by censors, but a few images persisted. In one, demonstrators carried a banner that read “Give back my ancestors’ farmland.” A video lingered on overturned police vehicles, including one with graffiti that read “running dogs,” an insult once directed at perceived enemies of the people. The continuing unrest could pose a threat to the political aspirations of Wang Yang, the provincial party secretary who has partly staked his reputation on promoting the well-being of Guangdong’s 104 million residents and by trying to gauge the level of their happiness.”Happiness for the people is like flowers,” Mr. Wang wrote this year. “The party and the government shall create the proper environment for the flowers to grow.”
Riot Erupts in Guizhou After Female Cyclist is Injured by Official
In August 2011, AFP reported, “Thousands of rioters took to the streets in Guizhou in southwestern China, with some smashing and burning vehicles, after a city official injured a female cyclist, state news agency Xinhua reported on Friday. The riots carried on all night, with 10 police officers wounded in the violence, the report said. Rioters also blocked the city’s main roads using trucks, the state-run China National Radio reported on its website. [Source: AFP, August 13, 2011]
The rioters smashed ten vehicles and torched another five, said Xinhua, adding that 10 police officers and guards were injured. The police arrested 10 people suspected of attacking the vehicles. Canyu, an overseas Chinese website showed photos it said were taken in Qianxi, showing thousands of residents crowding a square in the town, surrounding overturned police vehicles.
Radio Free Asia, a news service based in Washington D.C., reported the clash in Qianxi broke out after officials tried to confiscate an electric-powered bicycle, injuring the female owner. Xinhua said the riots were set off when “chengguan” officials, responsible for low-level policing on China’s streets, injured a female cyclist while trying to confiscate her bicycle for illegal parking. “Crowds turned over the vehicle of the urban administration staff and attacked police who came to quiet down the situation,” the official Xinhua news agency reported.
As with many recent protests and riots, news of this one spread on China’s Internet, especially on Sina’s popular Weibo microblogging site, reported Radio Free Asia. Once Chinese authorities acted searches on Weibo for Qianxi County and even Guizhou province were largely blocked with a message saying the “relevant legal regulations” prevented showing the search results. Users nonetheless posted comments, and some drew sardonic parallels with recent riots in London and other English cities. “In fact, China has riots more serious than England’s every week,” said one Weibo comment. agencies
In July 2011 in Anshun, a small city in the southern province of Guizhou, the death of a disabled fruit vendor in the custody of the chengguan, neighborhood police widely disliked throughout China for their brutality, brought thousands of infuriated people out into the streets hurling stones and overturning cars. Within days, authorities sacked the officers involved.
Shanghai Workers Protest Layoffs
In December 2011, Radio Free Asia reported: “Hundreds of laid-off workers at a Singapore-invested electronics firm protested outside its Shanghai factory against what they said was an inadequate compensation package.Security was tight in the area around the Hi-P factory, which makes electronics for global companies like Motorola and HP. "Yes, there was labor unrest here," said a worker surnamed Chen who witnessed the protest. "It was triggered by the [factory] move." [Source: Radio Free Asia. December 2, 2011]
Overseas labor rights groups said Hi-P hadn't paid the legal amount of compensation to staff it laid off without notice ahead of a move to the nearby city of Suzhou. "They sealed off a whole road because there were so many people there," Chen said. "This will definitely have an impact." Some workers, who remained outside the factory said they were injured during clashes with police. Chen said the government had sent officials to investigate the cause of the protests.
Photographs of the protest published on microblogging sites showed workers wearing blue jackets blocking the main gate of the Hi-P factory. Reports said large numbers of police were sent to the scene to clear the area, sparking clashes with protesting workers and their supporters. Police treated some women in the crowd roughly, pulling them by their hair, while more than 10 people were detained, the reports said.
A labor recruiter surnamed Zhang who had previously found workers for the Hi-P Shanghai plant said times were tough for local companies, as China faces skyrocketing prices and repeated waves of labor unrest. "A lot of factories are struggling at the moment," Zhang said. "None of them is hiring." A worker surnamed Wang from the Jinqiao Development Zone, near where the unrest took place, said many companies were moving out of the zone to cheaper locations inland. "The rents are getting higher now, and that's not all," Wang said. "It's some of the other business costs and wage-related costs, too. "Shanghai is more expensive than other places in terms of labor and other costs," she said.
Chinese manufacturers are battling surging costs in almost all areas of their business, and southern China in particular has seen a string of strikes and labor-related unrest in recent weeks. China's traditionally export-driven economy has been hit by slowing demand for its exports in Europe and the U.S., amid weakening domestic demand and a tight lending environment. Economic figures showed the manufacturing sector shrank during November for the first time in three years.
Hi-P's profit margins have shrunk by 80 percent in the past year, with costs rising much faster than sales.Globally, Hi-P has around 20,000 employees, with factories in Shanghai, Chengdu, Xiamen, Qingdao, Tianjin, Suzhou, and Dongguan.
Migrants Protest Over Tax Dispute in East China
In October 2011, AP reported: “Hundreds of migrant small business owners in an eastern Chinese town have protested over a tax dispute, some of them torching vehicles, in the latest unrest resulting from growing economic pressure and anger over the unfair treatment of migrants. The group of children’s clothing company owners protesting in the town of Zhili in Zhejiang province swelled to more than 600 people, on Wednesday night, according to Huzhou Online, a state controlled news portal in the city of Huzhou, which oversees Zhili. [Source: Associated Press, October 27 2011]
The protests started after one of the business owners refused to pay taxes and gathered a group to attack a tax collector, the report said, adding that some of the protesters blocked a highway and smashed and torched vehicles. The report did not explain why the business owner did not want to pay his taxes. But a local doctor surnamed Zhao contacted by The Associated Press said he had heard that town authorities were imposing a higher tax rate for migrant businesses than for local ones, causing unhappiness among the group who were from neighboring Anhui province.
The Huzhou Online said police had detained five suspects and that another 23 suspects were being held as part of the investigation. Around 100 protesters swarmed toward the township government offices, hurled rocks and destroyed street lamps, smashing the windows of more than 30 private cars, said the Zhejiang Online, a provincial news website. It added that several police and urban management officers were injured. Protesters also smashed an Audi car, whose driver ran the vehicle into the group, knocking down 10 people, the Zhejiang Online said. All 10 were hospitalized and the driver was being held by police, it said.
Reasons Behind Migrants Protest Over Tax Dispute in East China
The unrest is the latest sign of tensions arising from economic pressure. People are unhappy about the tax burden at a time when household incomes in a lot of areas are stagnant but living costs are rising rapidly. Inflation has been largely driven by food costs and the government has launched measures to increase supplies but those have been set back by summer storms that wrecked crops. Huzhou, like much of Zhejiang, is full of small-scale private factories staffed and in some cases now run by migrants from neighboring Anhui and Jiangxi provinces. These factories run on thin profit margins in the best of times and higher taxes add to the pressure.
There is also a growing unhappiness over unfair treatment of migrants, who usually perform the most dangerous and least desirable work in China and are widely seen as vulnerable to abuse and discrimination by authorities and local residents. In June, thousands of migrant workers rioted in the southern city of Xintang after a confrontation between security guards and a pair of migrant sidewalk vendors.
The Wall Street Journal reported: According to people interviewed by telephone in Zhili, the disturbance followed aggressive collection of new charges for the use of machines used to make children’s wear, the town’s mainstay product. The tax was targeted at small, independent workshops that often aren’t licensed and are manned mostly by migrant laborers who earn money per piece produced. They said workshop managers were being charged between 300 yuan (about $48) and 600 yuan for each machine used, in what Chinese discussing the matter online called the “sewing-machine tax.” It amounts to about twice as much as was collected in the past. An unidentified man who apparently objected to the payment rallied others to join this week’s protest, locals said. [Source: China Digital Times, October 28, 2011]
China’s economy is slowing and the Zhili government’s pullback on tax levies reflects a strategy Beijing is increasingly likely to take to soften pain of the deceleration, according to analysts. This week, the central government said it would reduce double-taxation of certain transportation in China, a move expected to encourage some business activity and amounts to a philosophical change, according to analysts.
This tax reform is part of the structural tax reduction, and thus can be viewed as a signal of expansionary fiscal policy,” Minggao Shen, a Citigroup economist said in a research note. The influence on China of a weak global economy is clearly being seen in Zhejiang province, home to nearly 50 million people and by some measures the country’s wealthiest region. Nearly 12 percent of China’s total exports came from the province in August. But Zhejiang factory owners say their already-thin margins are disappearing.
Self-Immolation in Tiananmen Square
Peter Foster wrote in the Daily Telegraph, “Even after nearly three years reporting in China, there is still something amazing about the fact that a man can set himself on fire in Tiananmen Square, in broad daylight, and then no one hears or says a word about it. As it happens, the incident we report today that occurred on October 21st was witnessed by a Telegraph reader who photographed the aftermath and — after hearing nothing more about it — decided it was right to alert the wider world. [Source: Peter Foster, Daily Telegraph, November 16, 2011]
The picture shows several hundred people who must have also witnessed what happened after Mr Wang, a 42-year-old man from Huanggang in Hubei, set himself on fire in protest at a court judgment that, we must presume, he felt was so unfair his only recourse was to self-immolate. Such incidents, which are not completely uncommon in China, reflect the frustration faced by ordinary people as they seek justice from a system of courts and government that offers little recourse to the weak.
"The man did it right in front of me. He stepped over the low railing in front of the cycle-lane that runs past the picture of Chairman Mao. He was only two or three metres away from me," recalled Alan Brown, a retired RAF Engineer from Somerton, Somerset, told the Daily Telegraph. "He said something quickly and a policeman nearby was suddenly agitated, but this chap whipped out his lighter and set himself on fire. Without being melodramatic, he looked straight at me and set himself on fire. "The policeman initially leapt back and then grabbed a fire extinguisher from his motorbike and put the man out," added Mr Brown, who was holidaying in China with his wife, Pamela.
Despite being witnessed by several hundred other Chinese bystanders there is no record or mention of the incident either in China's heavily censored state media, or on Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, where news deemed sensitive or undesirable by the state often leaks out. However after being shown the photograph, the incident was confirmed by the press department of the Beijing Public Security Bureau (PSB) which is responsible for monitoring and maintaining social order in China.
"At around 11 o'clock on Oct. 21, 2011, [a man surnamed] Wang walked to the spot near Jinshui bridge, and suddenly set his clothes on fire. The policemen at the scene extinguished the fire within ten seconds and sent the man to hospital for treatment," said a faxed statement. "He has now pulled through. After investigation, Wang (male, 42, resident of Huanggang city, Hubei province) took the extreme action because of discontent over the outcome of a civil litigation in a local court."
The self-immolation of Mr Wang would appear to be the first known incident since January 23 2001 when five people, including a 12-year-old girl, set themselves on fire allegedly in protest at the violent suppression of the Falun Gong spiritual movement. Two died, including the young girl, and three were left severely disfigured in the incident which remains controversial to this day after the Falun Gong leadership accused the Chinese government of staging the incident to justify its persecution of the movement's members.
While by no means common in China, self-immolation incidents are reported at least once or twice a year, often involving victims of unjust court rulings, land grabs, property disputes with local government or extreme examples of corruption. Chinese authorities in Tibet have also been dealing with a wave of self-immolations this year, with 11 monks and nuns setting themselves on fire in protest against Chinese rule in the Tibetan region since March.However, Tiananmen Square, which 22 years after the 1989 killings remains the most politically sensitive location in China, is very heavily policed, thronging with plain clothes officers who are poised to wrap up any attempt at protest at a second's notice.
Mr Brown, 59, said he had been astonished by the speed at which the security forces had stepped in to douse the flames and then erase any trace of the incident. "There were lots of people taking pictures at the time, so I was surprised not to hear anything about on the news afterwards, so I thought that it should at least come to light. "After it happened, the street cleaners were working almost straight away. If anyone had arrived five or ten minutes later they would have seen nothing. By the time we reached the balcony overlooking the square, there was no sign of what had happened. Everything had gone."
Self-Immolation in Tiananmen Square and What It Says About Microblog Censorship
Peter Foster wrote in the Daily Telegraph, Mr Brown recalls that "everyone" was taking pictures of the incident, but despite extensive online searches we cannot find any record of the incident: not in the state media, commercial media or on in the freer discussion forums of QQ or Sina Weibo (Chinese Twitter). Perhaps some people did register the incident on their Weibo accounts but, as is common, they were deleted by the "net nannies" who police online discussion spaces with the same zeal that plain-clothes officers police Tiananmen Square, snuffing out dissent at the first possible sign. [Source: Peter Foster, Daily Telegraph, November 16, 2011]
As the power and prevalence of Weibo grows, it has become increasingly difficult for the authorities to suppress unwanted and unpalatable news, as has been seen this year over protests in Dalian, with the "Barefoot lawyer" Chen Guangcheng and over the Wenzhou rail disaster.But as this incident shows, they also succeed, and in the nature of that suppression, it is impossible to know the ratio of successes to failures.
Asking around some old correspondents here in China, no one can remember a self-immolation incident in Tiananmen Square since 2001 when five people — allegedly Falun Gong practitioners — self-immolated. We presume that such things are very rare, but after this expertly erased incident, who can say? Perhaps these things happen far more regularly than we know.
Credit to the Beijing Public Security Bureau for not lying about the incident when presented with the photographic evidence, but it is the preceding cover-up that begs the questions that so fogs the slippery relationship in China between the State, the people and the truth.
Ironically the Chinese government is in the midst of a major crackdown on "false rumours" on the internet, and yet this kind of story, when it emerges, is exactly why no one believes the government or officialdom in China, and why rumours have such currency. No doubt, without the photographic evidence, Mr Wang's self-immolation would have been another subversive "rumour" to suppress. This is the single biggest problem facing the Chinese state, the one from which all its other difficulties flow: the absence of truth.
Occupy Wall Street Protests in China
Sun Wukong wrote in the Asia Times, “As the Occupy Wall Street protests targeting corporate greed and political corruption spread from coast to coast in the United States, China's new leftists — socialist critics of the country's capitalist-style economic reforms — are beginning to lend support, declaring the demonstrations as a "great revolution" that sounds the death-knell for capitalism throughout the world. Supporters of the new leftists have staged street protests in at least two cities of Henan province, Luoyang and Zhengzhou, in the past few days to show their "firm support" for the "Great Wall Street Revolution". [Source: Sun Wukong, Asia Times, October 13, 2011]
The Occupy Wall Street campaign in the United States has spread from a single protest on Wall Street to more than 70 cities including Los Angeles, Tampa and Portland, Oregon and Boston. Demonstrators, inspired by the Egyptian Tahrir Square uprising and anti-austerity rallies in Spain, have camped out in New York's financial district since September 17.
Chinese authorities seem to have closed their eyes to unauthorized public gatherings in Henan. Since the Occupy Wall Street protest movement began, coverage by China's state-run media has largely remained neutral, reporting its development without much fuss.However, new leftists who have in past two decades or so been sharply criticizing of what they call Beijing's pro-capitalist and pro-US policies apparently see the US protest movement as strong evidence in support of their faith.
On October 1 - China's National Day - blogger Sima Pingbang uploaded a lengthy article entitled "Support American People's Great Wall Street Revolution". It said events in the US herald a global revolution that will bury capitalism. Forty-two other new leftists including party elder Ma Bin, known scholars Zuo Dapei, Kong Qingdong and Han Deqiang, signed on to support Sima's article. But it immediately met harsh satirical criticism by netizens: "Sima - you must treat China and foreign countries equally, in your support of people's fights for their rights with peaceful means," said one. "Don't you see they can stage street demonstrations? They are much better than our country! So why are you making a fuss?"
Apparently incited by Sima's article, several hundred people in Zhengzhou, the provincial capital of Henan, gathered in front of the city's Working People's Cultural Palace on October 6 to show their support for the Wall Street protests, Utopia said in a report. Quoting participants, the report said what happened in the US was proof that only socialism can save the world as it had saved China. "Chairman Mao passed away, but the internationalism he taught us is still with us," Utopia concluded.
Then on October 8, an unknown number of people in Henan's Luoyang gathered at the city's Zhouwangcheng Square. Participants put up a big picture of Mao and displayed a huge banner with the slogan "To Staunchly Support American People's Great 'Wall Street' Revolution!" The wording of the slogan, obviously copied from the title of Sima's article, somehow reminds people of Mao's "Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution".
Utopia said that participants condemned the US for instigating "color revolutions" in Middle East and North Africa, for trying to contain China after the collapse of the Soviet Union, supporting Japan to occupy the Diaoyu Islands (called Senkaku in Japan), for staging war games on South China Sea with Vietnam and the Philippines, as well as for selling weapons to Taiwan. From the photos on Utopia, participants in the Luoyang and Zhengzhou gatherings were mostly aged in their 50s or older. People in that age group are more nostalgic for Mao and his era of greater social equality, particularly as gaps in society widen today.
Image Sources: Wiki Commons, China Digital Times blogger JessicaYou Tube, BBC; China Digital Times, blogger Jessica, Wiki Commons, Human Rights in China
Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, Lonely Planet Guides, Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.
Last updated August 2012