Resistances of villagers of Shantou City in China

Zhang Kai



Whilst the Chinese Communist Party is stressing the need to build a society of harmony, many incidents indicate serious disharmony. One manifestation is the clashes in interest between local cadres and the masses. The land issue stands out as a major issue. The homes of local residents are demolished, or the farmland is appropriated, and then the land is sold at a high price to developers, with little compensation for the residents or peasants. Grievances lead to protests and resistances.

In Shantou City in Guangdong Province, unrest again broke out during the week of May 1, 2007. Villagers of Guyao Township, Chaoyang District suspected the rural cadres of corruption in the land deals, and organized squads to assault the homes of cadres, rob their household items, and destroy police cars. (Hong Kong Ming Pao, May 8) The unrest continued for a week, and spread to Tongyu Township in the vicinity. Several hundred villagers besieged the village administration building and a factory, and demanded the removal of the factory. Illegal land deals in the village are rampant; 60-70% of the farmland has been sold to factory owners to build factories, and some peasants have not got any compensation. Villagers claimed that it was general knowledge that every village party secretary had amassed tens of millions of fortune.

The authorities have adopted a restrained attitude in order to calm things down. Two village cadres were on the wanted list, but they had both disappeared.

The incident shows that firstly, even if the party central authorities issue many resolutions and orders to discipline corrupt cadres, corruption is still rampant in the local. This is induced by the bureaucracy. Anti-corruption resolutions are mere empty words on paper. Secondly, the administration’s work report also stresses the need to defend the people’s livelihood and prevent illegal occupation of land, and yet the illegalities are happening everywhere. Thirdly, the Right to Property Bill was adopted by the National People’s Congress in March 2007, yet the right to property of villagers and urban ordinary folk is not protected from the violations of big industrial and commercial interests. This is probably the characteristics of Chinese capitalism.

May 14, 2007