Bloody Revolt in a Village Challenges the Rulers of China


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I for one am shocked at the level of protests, and shocked as well on how quietly it was covered in the West. I had no idea that protests against central rule involved millions of people at a time.

Could some of our Chinese posters give insight on this issue? How will the CPC handle this?

A Bloody Revolt in a Tiny Village Challenges the Rulers of China

Jonathan Watts reports from Huankantou where protesters angry at corruption and poverty repelled 1,000 riot police. But now fear is replacing euphoria

Jonathan Watts in Huankantou
Friday April 15, 2005
The Guardian

Smashed police cars and buses after the battle in Huankantou

There is a strange new sightseeing attraction in this normally sleepy corner of the Chinese countryside: smashed police cars, rows of trashed buses and dented riot helmets.

They are the trophies of a battle in which peasants scored a rare and bloody victory against the communist authorities, who face one of the most serious popular challenges to their rule in recent years.

In driving off more than 1,000 riot police at the start of the week, Huankantou village in Zhejiang province is at the crest of a wave of anarchy that has seen millions of impoverished farmers block roads and launch protests against official corruption, environmental destruction and the growing gap between urban wealth and rural poverty

China's media have been forbidden to report on the government's loss of control, but word is spreading quickly to nearby towns and cities. Tens of thousands of sightseers and wellwishers are flocking every day to see the village that beat the police.

But the consequences for Huankantou are far from clear.

Having put more than 30 police in hospital, five critically, the 10,000 residents should be bracing for a backlash. Instead, the mood is euphoric. Children have not been to school since Sunday's clash. There are roadblocks outside the chemical factory that was the origin of the dispute. Late at night the streets are full of gawping tourists, marshalled around the battleground by proud locals who bellow chaotic instructions through loudspeakers.

"Aren't these villagers brave? They are so tough it's unbelievable," said a taxi driver from Yiwu, the nearest city. "Everybody wants to come and see this place. We really admire them."

"We came to take a look because many people have heard of the riot," said a fashionably dressed young woman who had come from Yiwu with friends. "This is really big news."

Although the aftermath is evident in a school car park full of smashed police buses, burned out cars and streets full of broken bricks and discarded sticks, the origin of the riot is hazy.

Initial reports suggested that it started after the death of two elderly women, who were run over when police attempted to clear their protest against a chemical factory in a nearby industrial park.

Witnesses confirmed that the local old people's association had kept a 24-hour vigil for two weeks outside the plant. Many said they had heard of the deaths, but no one could name the victims. The local government of Dongyang insists there were no fatalities.

Like many of the other disputes that have racked China in the past year, frustration had been simmering for some time. Locals accused officials of seizing the land for the industrial park - built in 2002 - without their consent. Some blamed toxins from the chemical plant for ruined crops, malformed babies and contamination of the local Huashui river.

The village chief reportedly refused to hold a public meeting to hear these grievances. Attempts to petition the central government also proved fruitless. Locals said they had lost faith in the authorities.

"The communists are even worse than the Japanese," said one man.

Memories are still fresh of the fighting on Sunday. "It was about 4am and I was woken up by an unusual noise," said a Ms Wang, a shopkeeper who lives next to the school where the fiercest fighting took place. "When I looked out of the window, I saw lots of riot police running into the village. Many men rushed out of their houses to defend our village."

Accounts of the conflict differ. Residents say 3,000 police stormed the village, several people - including police - were killed, dozens wounded and 30 police buses destroyed. But the Dongyang government says about 1,000 police and local officials were attacked by a mob, which led to 36 injuries and no deaths.

The outcome is also unclear. Locals say the village chief has fled. In his place, they have established an organising committee, though its members are a secret. This suggests a fear of recriminations, but the public mood is one of bravado.

"We don't feel regret about what we have done," said a middle-aged man. "The police have not come back since they withdrew on Monday. They dare not return."

Some, however, admitted to anxiety. Among them was an old woman - also a Mrs Wang - who reluctantly opened her doors to visitors who had come to see her collection of trophies from the battle.

"I am scared," she said, as she showed two dented riot police helmets, several empty gas canisters, a policeman's jacket and several truncheons and machetes. "This is getting bigger and bigger."

But there have been no arrests and no communication from the authorities. The current leadership will be keen to avoid a Tiananmen Square-style confrontation, including prime minister Wen Jiabao, who pleaded with the Tianan men protesters to leave before the tanks came. At the same time, the authorities are committed to social stability.

According to government statistics, protests increased by 15% last year to 58,000, with more than 3 million people taking part. In many provincial capitals, roadblocks occur more than once a week. Last weekend, anti-Japanese demonstrators rallied in three cities, including Beijing.

But in Huankantou, villagers do not seem to realise that although they have won the battle, they may be far from winning the war.

Amid a crowd of locals beside a wrecked bus, one middle-aged woman won a cheer of approval by calling for the government to make the first move towards reconciliation.

"It's up to them to start talking," she said. "I don't know what we would do if the police came back again, but our demand is to make the factory move out of the village. We will not compromise on that."
the problem is the chinese ppl discussing on this board do not live in china, i don't know a single chinese who is actually living in china and discussing on a forum in english. i really want to talk to some chinese who lives in china, for i am certain that he must be having different views than the overseas chinese
Here's some more news from China...

14 April, 2005

Sixty thousand people protest against pollution in China

Demonstrators in Huaxi village say they will resist until the government moves chemical plants that are destroying the countryside.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – About 60,000 people came to the village of Huaxi (Zhejiang province) to protest against high, local levels of pollution.

The demonstrators said they would not budge until the government either moved or closed the 13 chemical plants which have polluted the water and ground around the village.

Police barred reporters from the scene, but locals reached by telephone said that “yesterday the crowd had reached at least 50,000 or 60,000 people”.

For two years, Huaxi residents have petitioned the government to move the factories whose emissions have made agriculture virtually impossible, forcing farmers to seek other forms of employment.

The situation precipitated on April 10 when about 3,000 law enforcement officers descended on the village to break up the protest that had started on March 24 when a group of elderly people, mostly women, set up roadblocks on the road leading to the factories.

Unconfirmed reports about two people dying in the clashes between demonstrators and police have added fuel to the fire.

People began overturning police cars and breaking windows with police officers responding using truncheons and stun guns.

Many villagers are outraged at the fact that many local officials are said to own stocks in the 13 chemical plants.

Local, state-controlled press have instead said that officials are very concerned by environmental issues and have compensated farmers who suffered losses from contaminated emissions.

A local paper reported that the police decided to break up the protests on Sunday because they were worried that “the coming of cold air and a dramatic temperature drop threatened the health of feeble old women.”

Pollution in China is much more than an environmental issue; it is increasingly becoming a social problem as well.

The riot in Huaxi is more a symptom of a widening social unrest that is spreading throughout the Chinese countryside.

Niu Wenyuan, director of the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Policy and Management, warned that the country is facing more environmental pressures as rural areas became more urbanised. (MA)
Xion said:
the problem is the chinese ppl discussing on this board do not live in china, i don't know a single chinese who is actually living in china and discussing on a forum in english. i really want to talk to some chinese who lives in china, for i am certain that he must be having different views than the overseas chinese

I kinda agree.

The problem is how are you going to find the average Chinese actualy living in China who is not a member of the Communist party with internet access.

Most of them probably can't afford it, the average yearly income is only about $900. Even if they can, or get public access to it, it could be monitored.
I wonder how in a communist system, the rural people still get the lower rung of the ladder compared to the city folk. Wasn't that supposed to have died out? Or at least imporved.

I lived in China for 17 years. Do I count?

Rural folks get the stiff when Capitalistic system being implemented without having a plan taing care of farming communities. It has been like that since the very first government being installed.

Currently, China doesn't have a established farming system that help the farmers stay afloat like the US.

it is nice to hear stuff from the locals. However, I find that many westerners and politicians use what these locals wants and desires to degrade China (ignoring its desire to move forward) generate anti-China, and possible stage movements that overthrow the government. Instead of helping Chinese from economic and educational side, westerners tend to rattle that country's foundation in the name of freedom and liberty, yet ignore the eventual hardship Chinese will be facing.

What about Religious freedom..........what's the Situation about it there....... going By past experience Communism has always looked upon Religion as a threat to itself. ? ............. Does the Chinset Communist Rulers too Look towards the religion as their predesecors did?

Source:Associated Press

BEIJING - China is waging a campaign to suppress peaceful Muslim religious and cultural activities in its west under the guise of fighting terrorism, two U.S.-based human rights groups said Tuesday.

Comparing the situation to Tibet, a report by the two groups said Muslims in the Xinjiang region are "concerned for their cultural survival" amid a government-financed influx of settlers from China's Han ethnic majority.

The communist government is trying to "smother Islam" among Uighurs in Xinjiang, said Human Rights Watch and Human Rights in China. They accused the government of carrying out a "crushing campaign of religious repression."

"China has opportunistically used the post-September 11 environment to make the outrageous claim that individuals disseminating peaceful religious and cultural messages in Xinjiang are terrorists," the report said.

Independent mosques are banned in China and state-sanctioned religious bodies are tightly controlled.

The report said the government tries to control all aspects of the Muslim faith in Xinjiang — picking clerics, deciding which version of the Quran to use, and where and how to hold religious festivals.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said he had not read the report and could not comment on it, but he insisted that "people of various ethnic groups in Xinjiang enjoy all civil rights, including the freedom of religious beliefs."

Qin also said that separatists in Xinjiang were a "serious threat to the security of not only China, but of the whole region," and the crackdown on them was "an important part of the international fight against terrorism."

Muslims in Xinjiang who worship in violation of state controls face harassment, fines, prison and torture, the report said. There have been "vast increases" in the number of Uighurs imprisoned for religious offenses, and minors are forbidden from engaging in any religious activity, it said.

"The situation is not dissimilar to Tibet, with the Chinese state attempting to refashion a religion to control an ethnic minority," Brad Adams, the director of Human Rights Watch, said in a news release announcing the report.

Beijing has used economic incentives to encourage settlers from the ethnic Han majority to move to both Xinjiang and Tibet in an effort to integrate them with the country's booming east. Communist troops marched into Tibet in 1950, and China has spent decades trying to suppress pro-independence sentiment.

"Much like Tibetans, the Uighurs in Xinjiang are concerned for their cultural survival in the face of a government-supported influx of ethnic Chinese migrants," the 114-page report said.

The Chinese government has blamed separatists for what it says is a campaign of bombings and assassinations.

"Separatist sentiments are a reality in Xinjiang, though they provide no justification for the broad denial of basic rights," the report said.

Diplomats and foreign experts say most violence in Xinjiang blamed on separatists is not politically motivated and appears to stem from personal disputes. Officials in Xinjiang say there has been no separatist violence in recent years.

In 2002, the United States listed the Xinjiang-based East Turkestan Islamic Movement as a terror group — a classification that some believed was a concession to China in exchange for support of the American-led anti-terrorist campaign.

The report calls on Washington not to "acquiesce in any future demands from China to place organizations on lists of terrorist organizations without sufficient evidence."

Amnesty International

Muslim ethnic groups

Members of various other ethnic groups have been subjected to human rights violations in connection with demands for political independence, respect for cultural identity or religious freedom. The best documented reports about such violations concern the Xinjiang Autonomous Region. There are other regions in which there is believed to be a similar pattern of abuses but about which information is extremely hard to gather.

Xinjiang is one of the five autonomous regions of the PRC where the officially recognized "national minorities" exercise in theory a degree of self-government. Ethnic Chinese, or Han, form 38 per cent of the Xinjiang population of about 15 million, according to official 1990 census figures. Turkic peoples, including Uighur, Uzbek, Khalkhas and Kazakh, are the main officially recognized "national minorities" and together comprise about 56 per cent of the population. The Turkic peoples of Xinjiang are predominantly Muslim.

Most human rights violations in Xinjiang have been connected to the restriction of religious activities, the repression of nationalist demonstrations and the suppression of underground opposition groups. In recent years, the authorities have reported on several occasions that they had crushed "illegal organizations" in Xinjiang which allegedly aimed to "split the unity of the motherland". Such reports were made in 1990 about groups in Yili, a Kazakh prefecture in northern Xinjiang, and in Baren, a Uighur rural county in the Akto district, south of Kashgar, in western Xinjiang.

Following violent clashes between demonstrators and the security forces in Baren in April 1990, the authorities imposed a severe crackdown on opposition. Several thousand people were reportedly arrested across Xinjiang. More than 200 people, most of them peasants, were arrested in Baren for involvement in the clashes and many were reportedly tortured. Some were said to have had teeth and limbs broken as a result of beatings in detention and all were reported to be held in extremely harsh conditions.

Amnesty International has received details of 33 Uighur men reported to have been killed or arrested during the Baren incident, including photographs of 31 of them. Eight were reportedly shot dead by the security forces; the 25 others were imprisoned. Of the 25, three were sentenced to death and reportedly taken to Baren town centre and publicly executed; one was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve; 10 were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 14 years to life; and one received a five-year sentence. At least four of the others detained were still being held without charge or trial in 1993. The fate and whereabouts of the rest is unknown. Those known to have been sentenced are held in various prisons and labour camps in Wusu, Shihezi and Urumqi.

Amnesty International is concerned about allegations that some of those killed were shot as they were fleeing, when they posed no immediate threat of violence. It believes they may have been victims of extrajudicial executions. The organization is also concerned by reports that those jailed were tortured and received heavy sentences after unfair trials. It believes some may be prisoners of conscience.

Amnesty International also has information about some 30 other people who are reported to have been detained or imprisoned in Xinjiang for attempting to exercise fundamental rights or for taking part in protests or underground political groups. Little is known about many of the prisoners in view of the difficulties involved in gathering information. However, corroboration of the arrests has often been provided by official sources.

Among such cases is that of Kajikhumar Shabdan (Hajihumaer), an ethnic Kazakh writer and poet. According to official sources, he was detained in July 1987 and later sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment, reportedly for "espionage". Unofficial sources say that he was held on suspicion of belonging to an underground organization in Xinjiang which had links with a nationalist political group in what was then the Kazakhstan Soviet Republic of the USSR. He had published several volumes of a novel, Crime, which criticizes the policies towards the region's Turkic peoples implemented by successive administrations in the region. Kajikhumar Shabdan was last reported, in mid-1994, to be serving his sentence at Urumqi No.1 Prison. He was then 70 years old. Amnesty International is concerned that he may be a prisoner of conscience.

Large-scale arrests of Muslim nationalists are also reported to have been carried out in Xinjiang and other areas in the west of China following sporadic unrest since mid-1993. These include mass arrests in Kashgar of people who had reportedly taken part in a public demonstration of grief at the death of a venerated mullah and Islamic scholar in August 1993. Other arrests were made later that year in Kashgar following bombings allegedly carried out by Muslim nationalists.

In October 1993 the authorities crushed two months of anti-Chinese protests by thousands of Muslims in Xining, Qinghai province. As in other incidents, the protests were triggered by the publication of a book which included a picture some Muslims found offensive, but soon turned into nationalist demonstrations. The authorities stormed a mosque which had been occupied for several weeks by the protesters and arrested over a dozen people. They are reported to have been sentenced, but no further information is available.

Quickie on that...

If you dig through history of China, religion have been part of ruling class in China. All emperors exploited religion to sustain and re-enforecd its mandate of heaven to rule over Chinese. Religion is fine by itself, yet many practitioners tend to direct the power of religion towards self-interests both political and economic; western religions have seen many of these. Politics in conjunction of Religion ruled China over 5000 years. Would you agree that religion is a bit misused here?

Many locals turn religion into superstition. By using religion and superstition, much fear and order were instilled in general publics. Throughout Chinese history, government officials, religious entities and superstition practitioners would persecute anyone using laws that injected with their own rules, values, and morals. People became pessimistic towards their own destinies and value; People value religion and superstition more compare to scientific results.

The Boxer rebellion paint a clearer picture of religion abuse by the a few. Many accounts of westerners use religion to smuggle women and treasures: silver, gold, and artifacts out of China for profits during the Qing dynasty. Old values mingled with religion and suspstitions had prevent China reach out and realize its fallen behind in economic, scientific, cultural, militaristic, and social progression.

Chinese communists saw and understood the decay of China's status caused by theory of Mandate of Heaven, abuse of religion, rigidities in social environment, and especially the unscientific, ridiculous religion-based superstition. Therefore, they elected to root out anything associated with religion and things that prohibit self-actualization. However, Communist fail to realize and practice the requirement of fulfilling basic needs in order to achieve self-actualization. And that is where it failed during 50s, 60s, and the 70s in China.

Part of my understanding of religion restriction in China, besides centralization of political control, is that Chinese people are easily swayed away from science and reality by religion for its deeply dependence on second factors instead of people's own ability to rule, for example (rough one), regular Chinese alawys believe that one's life is premade/predesigned by Budha or karma instead of abilities self-govern and self-improve.

Now, I do believe in freedom of religion. However, I don't like to see Mujihadeens like extremists running around in the name of Mandate of Heaven crap.

PS. Made a mistake: Suspitition means Superstition
gladius said:
Xion said:
the problem is the chinese ppl discussing on this board do not live in china, i don't know a single chinese who is actually living in china and discussing on a forum in english. i really want to talk to some chinese who lives in china, for i am certain that he must be having different views than the overseas chinese

I kinda agree.

The problem is how are you going to find the average Chinese actually living in China who is not a member of the Communist party with internet access.

Most of them probably can't afford it, the average yearly income is only about $900. Even if they can, or get public access to it, it could be monitored.
There is one other very big obstacle in the way of hearing from everyday Chinese people. Their too damn poor to have reasonable access to the Internet in majority of cases. And of course it has already been said: Hardly any of them actually speak or read English. A huge chunk of them (about 50%) can't read in any language at all.

13th, ask him how superstitious HK and Southern Chinese are at once as well. That is why you see Chinese people don't like the number 4 for it sound like "death" in Chinese. Lot of Chinese and TW people love the number of 8 and 9, because they represent good luck and fortune.

Many Chinese people superstitiously believed cremation deters eternal rest of human soul, thus bring destruction and unrest to the family. And yes, superstitiously, girls are represent lost of fortune and some times means bad luck when married out of the family. And Yes, superstitiously, boys represent dragons that brings wealth into family.

And I did live in HK for a bit while lived in CHina for 17 years. Although, I can't represent complete Chinese perspectives, I do know a few things about China and Chinese.
Re: Heheh

Boobies said:
I lived in China for 17 years. Do I count?
You are officially recognized and counted sir. Consider yourself priveledged for this great honor. :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

it is nice to hear stuff from the locals. However, I find that many westerners and politicians use what these locals wants and desires to degrade China (ignoring its desire to move forward) generate anti-China, and possible stage movements that overthrow the government. Instead of helping Chinese from economic and educational side, westerners tend to rattle that country's foundation in the name of freedom and liberty, yet ignore the eventual hardship Chinese will be facing.
I don't think that it should be surprising that the West is wary of China. From the Western perspective, China sends a lot of mixed/confusing signals. They want to promote world peace and stability, but they also want to invade Taiwan and punish Japan. They want to move away from Communism, but the Communist Party planning on giving up power ... ever as far as we know. China wants and needs help from the West, but it doesn't want or need the West at all.
4 is to east Asia what 13 is in the West.
It applies in Korea as well.
Hong Kong people are pretty superstitious. They burn paper mache Rolls Royces and fake paper money to appease the spirits of their ancestors when it's that time of year again. I lived there a few years myself.

Thanks Thunder! :)

China is trying to carve out its own version (or not) of democratic system. To western countries, China's path is a bit ambivalent. I sometimes puzzle the small-steps in obvious situations. Many fundamental issues are deep rooted with 5000 years of baggage. There are definitely many things need to be considered before a full blown democracy can be executed at this time. The #1 social concern now will be: economic reform and educational system for rural communities: an education system targets ridding of superstition and unscientific practices that has no connection with religion.

And the sometimes overboard Pride thing as well!
i agree that the numbers are correct and what happened is true, howver, western sources states their views with bias and is sometimes not focused on the true issue, as in the case with anti-jap demostrations, in which almost half of the article is about the comminest government
Thanks guys, for all your perspectives :)

I have another somewhat related question. What kind of political representation (through the CPC) do the rural Chinese have? I know that educational opportunities (and city/industry hoku(sp) housing permits) are very hard to come by if you are not a CPC member of standing, or come from a powerful family. That being said, what is the political structure of rural China like?
in rural china i can say one thing, and that is they miss chairman mao when he put them as the number one piority in china

btw, if there was pics of this so-called protest, i would be glad to see it, other wise i would think its a rumor
lol , it doesnt mean its a rumour because you can't accept the truth

holy hell, there are hoardes of news agencies reporting what their reporters saw with their naked eyes and this above guy sitting in canada is telling that its a rumour, lmfao, you are truly a communist