Occupying China

Ethel C. Fenig
Hey occupiers, occupy this.  According to a New York Times report, there is a real occupation underway by incredibly brave people protesting real income gaps in a country that professes that, thanks to draconian socialist government control, including the number of children a woman can bear, well...no such things exist.   
Spasms of social turmoil in China have become increasingly common, a reflection of the widening income gap and deepening unhappiness with official corruption and an unresponsive legal system. But the clashes in Wukan, which first erupted in September, are unusual for their longevity -- and for the brazenness of the villagers as they call attention to their frustrations.
And this isn't the first protest in the country.  Despite numerous media reports singing  the praises of the Chinese system, including the Times' star Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Tom Friedman, 
Last year, there were as many as 180,000 outbursts of what sociologists here describe as "mass incidents": strikes, sit-ins, rallies and violent clashes that have mushroomed alongside China's breakneck economic expansion. Government figures from the mid-1990s put the number of such episodes at fewer than 10,000.
Like the mythical tree in the uninhabited forest, if no one reported on Chinese protests apparently they didn't exist.  So why are the Chinese, especially in a small town of 20,000 now protesting?  Why real greed, real corruption by a select few in the land of equal misery. 

A major source of unrest, including in Wukan, is the seizure of land by well-connected private developers or government officials, which involves forced evictions for meager compensation.
The residents' ire exploded in September, when thousands of people took to the streets to protest the sale of a village-owned pig farm for luxury housing that netted the government $156 million. In addition to greater compensation and a public accounting about that deal and earlier ones, the residents called for democratic elections to replace village officials, including the party secretary, who has been in power since the early 1980s.

More than just unalloyed greed, these seizures are supported by local governments that have come to rely on proceeds of land sales and development to pay for day-to-day operations.

(snip)

The discontent in Wukan has been simmering for more than a decade. Residents say land seizures began in the late 1990s, when officials began selling off farmland for industrial parks and apartment complexes. Villagers say more than 1,000 acres have been seized and resold to developers in the past decade or so.

The residents' ire exploded in September, when thousands of people took to the streets to protest the sale of a village-owned pig farm for luxury housing that netted the government $156 million. In addition to greater compensation and a public accounting about that deal and earlier ones, the residents called for democratic elections to replace village officials, including the party secretary, who has been in power since the early 1980s. 

And the situation in China is bound to get worse. As Rick Moran earlier pointed out, "The credit and housing bubbles upon which a lot of Chinese growth depends appear to be bursting."

There is also in China, according to the Times' report,


worsening pollution, claims of unpaid wages or police brutality.

And real police brutality, not a few spoiled occupier kids having their hands tied behind their backs by meanie cops. In Wukan, a protester taken into custody died; a relative viewing his body claimed


knees were bruised, his nostrils were caked with blood and his thumbs appeared to be broken. The man, who spoke by phone and gave his surname as Gao, declined to fully identify himself. "We've been to the funeral home a couple of times, but the police won't release his body," he said.

Ah, these simple Chinese peasants just don't realize that the brutality, the confiscation of land, interference in reproduction is all for their own good. As Friedman put it


one-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century.

And in China, as Winston Churchill once noted, except for the 1/2 of one percent there is no wealth gap because

Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.


Hey occupiers, occupy this.  According to a New York Times report, there is a real occupation underway by incredibly brave people protesting real income gaps in a country that professes that, thanks to draconian socialist government control, including the number of children a woman can bear, well...no such things exist.   
Spasms of social turmoil in China have become increasingly common, a reflection of the widening income gap and deepening unhappiness with official corruption and an unresponsive legal system. But the clashes in Wukan, which first erupted in September, are unusual for their longevity -- and for the brazenness of the villagers as they call attention to their frustrations.
And this isn't the first protest in the country.  Despite numerous media reports singing  the praises of the Chinese system, including the Times' star Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Tom Friedman, 
Last year, there were as many as 180,000 outbursts of what sociologists here describe as "mass incidents": strikes, sit-ins, rallies and violent clashes that have mushroomed alongside China's breakneck economic expansion. Government figures from the mid-1990s put the number of such episodes at fewer than 10,000.
Like the mythical tree in the uninhabited forest, if no one reported on Chinese protests apparently they didn't exist.  So why are the Chinese, especially in a small town of 20,000 now protesting?  Why real greed, real corruption by a select few in the land of equal misery. 

A major source of unrest, including in Wukan, is the seizure of land by well-connected private developers or government officials, which involves forced evictions for meager compensation.

The residents' ire exploded in September, when thousands of people took to the streets to protest the sale of a village-owned pig farm for luxury housing that netted the government $156 million. In addition to greater compensation and a public accounting about that deal and earlier ones, the residents called for democratic elections to replace village officials, including the party secretary, who has been in power since the early 1980s.

More than just unalloyed greed, these seizures are supported by local governments that have come to rely on proceeds of land sales and development to pay for day-to-day operations.

(snip)

The discontent in Wukan has been simmering for more than a decade. Residents say land seizures began in the late 1990s, when officials began selling off farmland for industrial parks and apartment complexes. Villagers say more than 1,000 acres have been seized and resold to developers in the past decade or so.

The residents' ire exploded in September, when thousands of people took to the streets to protest the sale of a village-owned pig farm for luxury housing that netted the government $156 million. In addition to greater compensation and a public accounting about that deal and earlier ones, the residents called for democratic elections to replace village officials, including the party secretary, who has been in power since the early 1980s. 

And the situation in China is bound to get worse. As Rick Moran earlier pointed out, "The credit and housing bubbles upon which a lot of Chinese growth depends appear to be bursting."

There is also in China, according to the Times' report,


worsening pollution, claims of unpaid wages or police brutality.

And real police brutality, not a few spoiled occupier kids having their hands tied behind their backs by meanie cops. In Wukan, a protester taken into custody died; a relative viewing his body claimed


knees were bruised, his nostrils were caked with blood and his thumbs appeared to be broken. The man, who spoke by phone and gave his surname as Gao, declined to fully identify himself. "We've been to the funeral home a couple of times, but the police won't release his body," he said.

Ah, these simple Chinese peasants just don't realize that the brutality, the confiscation of land, interference in reproduction is all for their own good. As Friedman put it


one-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century.

And in China, as Winston Churchill once noted, except for the 1/2 of one percent there is no wealth gap because

Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.