Riots against birth control in Bobai County, Guangxi Province

Zhang Kai



Upsurges in Shantou City in Guangdong Province occurred in the first week of May 2007. Within ten days, riots erupted in 8 villagers in Bobai County in the neighbouring province of Guangxi, where villagers broke into the government buildings and burnt things down, and even beat to death some officials in charge of birth control.

           The incident originated with a birth control conference in Guangxi Province early this year. Bobai County was named as seriously problematic in excessive births, and the authorities were ordered to redress the problem. Hence, the Bobai authorities issued 28 birth control policies this year, stressing that “iron-like resolution, means and discipline” will be imposed against birth control violators.

           Some measures included: out of quota births after 1980 have to pay a fine of 10,000 to 70,000 yuan (USD1=7.5 yuan), regardless of whether they have previously paid any fines. Those who cannot pay will have their household items removed and pigs and poultry seized; household items not worth anything would be smashed. All government officials are given a quota of completing one case of contraception operation on a woman and collection of a fine of 500 yuan before the end of August. (Wen Hui Pao May 22, 23) When the local cadres implement the policies with force, it induced serious resentment and rage of the villagers. It is reported that tens of thousands of people rioted.

           When social disparities are serious, and peasants are already leading a difficult life, the further extortion of money from the peasants by the local authorities drives peasants to rioting. In Bobai, faced with the riots, the government on the one hand dispatched the military troops, and on the other hand suspended the fines.

           Such measures of greed and indifference from the authorities have intensified the tensions between the government and the people. The Bobai riot is only one among many, and made visible because of media reports. According to the government statistics, from 1994 to 2004, within a decade, mass unrest incidents have risen from 10,000 cases to 74,000 cases, which is an annual increase of 22.2%. The number of people involved has risen from 730,000 man-times to 3.76 million man-times, which is an annual increase of 17.8%. This is the state of “harmony” in today’s China.

May 28, 2007