Another village riot, with a twist

This one sure sounds different. The villagers were apparently stockpiling arms, resisting efforts to halt illegal mining, and poisoning their own water, with the local government trying to stop them. How’s that for a twist?

About 800 policemen clashed with armed villagers during a pre-dawn raid and arrested 47 people in southern China after residents resisted a crackdown on illegal mining and went on a rampage, a newspaper reported on Friday.

Police raided several villages in Hezhou in Guangxi province at dawn on Thursday and seized firearms, ammunition, explosives, detonators and machetes, the Legal Express said.

It did not say if any policemen or villagers were killed or injured.

The local government launched a crackdown on illegal mining in June after villagers polluted Hejiang river by dumping waste water into it, the newspaper said.

Villagers went on a “beating, smashing and looting” rampage, the newspaper said without elaborating.

Officials were not immediately available for comment.

Land disputes, corruption, abuse of power and a widening gap between the rich and the poor were among the reasons leading to the number of protests shooting up to 74,000 last year from just 10,000 in 1994, a Hong Kong newspaper reported last month.

The number of people involved in those demonstrations jumped to 3.76 million in 2004 from 730,000 a decade earlier, the Beijing-funded Ta Kung Pao quoted Public Security Minister Zhou Yongkang as telling parliament’s top advisory body.

Last month, the People’s Daily called for perceived threats to stability to be crushed. “Destabilising factors must be resolved at the grassroots and nipped in the bud,” the mouthpiece of the Communist Party said in an editorial.

I’m aware of the threat that regulation of mining poses for a lot of poor Chinese workers, possibly choking them out of their livelihood. Kind of ironic, that the regultions are designed to protect them. But I understand the fear; it’s how they survive, and safe or unsafe they can’t live without it. It also sounds like these villagers were arming themselves to the teeth. Which makes me wonder, how many other villages are doing the same? Are they preparing for war against the government?

The Discussion: 15 Comments

Another corruption case, with a twist:

For the first time, I am moved by a “corrupted” Chinese official.

On a evening of July 9th, 2004, Yu Bing, the Deputy Mayor of Linxiang, Hunan Province received a note from the prosecutor of the local counter-corruption bureau for a interview.
On July 30th, Yu was formally arrested. On the October 22nd, the local prosecutor accused Yu for accepting bribe about $12k and holding $13k illegal income from relatives and friends. On December 23rd, the local court made the decision: ” defendant Yu Bing commits the crime for accepting bribe, and is sentenced to prison for three years with grace period five years. The court will confiscate Yu’s property for about $8k. $12k bribe and $13k illegal income.

This seems to be a extremely ordinary case in China. However it turns out this is highly atypical case.

The evidence shows that Yu have used about $20k to help poor villagers and solve many practical problems for local towns, enterprises, and schools, which otherwise could not be accessed through the formal channel.

Yu Bin’s attorney argued that the court should have considered these facts and dropped the sentence towards Yu and started appeal for Yu from the last year.
However, on July 7th, 2005, the local court made the final decision to reject the appeal and maintain the original sentence.

Many local people feel very sorry for Yu because Yu was an very honest and upright person who is said has offended some local VIP. One former colleague of Yu said: Yu just don’t know how to protect himself in this world.

On July 24th, Yu was interviewed by a reporter in his shabby rental apartment and disclosed his motives. As a deputy mayor, Yu only has $1.2k/year for his daily expenture including the maintaining cost of his car. Yu mentioned that the budget is so tight that he could do nothing and thought the bribe at least can be used to help people and solve real problems. (In China, majority of government officials accept bribes. If you don’t, then you won’t get acceptance from your colleagues )

Feng Gang, the local eductional bureau chief’s assistant and a formal colleague of Yu said: “Yu commits absolutely no crime; nowadays, corrupt officicals all have private cars, houses, and secret lovers; what does Yu have?”

For the last several days, SINA.COM, the biggest internet portal in China, has collected more than 50 editorials from various newspapers and set up the poll for its readers. It is interesting to see that there is a huge contrast between the position of state owned newspapers and internet surfers. As we can expect, newspaper dare not to point out the real reason of the prosecution towards Yu Bing. While Chinese internet surfers have showed their hearts for Yu Bing. Over 70% of them think the sentence is unfair and about 65% of them even don’t think Yu has committed a crime because he didn’t use the money for himself.

August 6, 2005 @ 10:06 pm | Comment

riot watch iii

Via Peking Duck, a report of more village militancy in China but with a significant degree of escalation. Villagers reportedly were stockpiling firearms, ammunition, explosives, detonators and machetes.This one sure sounds different. The villagers were…

August 6, 2005 @ 11:00 pm | Comment

That is an amazing story, Lin. Thanks for telling us about it.

August 6, 2005 @ 11:07 pm | Comment

After seeing an incredible report on the BBC concerning the increasing disturbances, I understand now why the regime feels so threatened by the corporation.

August 6, 2005 @ 11:21 pm | Comment

Lion, I read about that story a few days ago – the local leader who took bribes to help his people. Very interesting, and I hope they treat him with some leniency. Unfortunately, there is so little nuance in the Chinese judicial system, so little room for mitigating arguments. I hope they show him some leniency.

August 7, 2005 @ 1:05 am | Comment

I feel that he is being punished for not taking enough!

In a corrupt system honesty becomes a liability. Just think about the scenario. You are taking 15% off the top of everything that comes your way. Some you kick up, some you keep. Now these are the rules, you all know them and you all abide by them. Those that do not play by the rules will suffer.

This do-gooder shows up. Not only does he not play by the rules, his actions constantly remind you of your own corruption and may even threaten your position with his honesty. Of course you try your best to get rid of him…

August 7, 2005 @ 1:21 am | Comment

Those arms-stockpiling villagers reminds me of a news story about a conflict between two villages about five years ago, I think in Guangdong Province.

Two villages locked in some kind of disagreement had taken to constructing home-made cannons, which fired scrap iron projectiles. They mounted them on earthen embankments on the edge of their towns, each facing the other village. They then proceeded to stage a multi-day artillery duel which left casualties and destroyed houses on both sides.

The story was that the police refused to get involved, but I thought the real story was the lengths these villagers had gone to, to design, build and deploy home-made artillery!

August 7, 2005 @ 1:38 am | Comment

right to the point, this is what I wanted to say but my thoughts were limited by my poor english.
If you told me earlier, I wouldn’t have spent 2+ hours for translating this piece:(
I googled first, but I couldn’t find anything in English… do you mind to tell me the source?
Thank you for the moving story posted on your site too. The daily China-related heavy posts by Richard usually are very depressing. :p, BUT I feel a little excited in this weekend because these two stories have cheered me up and showed me there IS something called spirit in the indifferent enviroment. There is a spiritual strength inside ordinary Chinese people.

August 7, 2005 @ 4:00 pm | Comment

Hi Lin. You can find a post about it here. I don’t think it is in the English language media yet.

August 7, 2005 @ 4:09 pm | Comment

Faint, that’s is my…

August 7, 2005 @ 6:24 pm | Comment

Lin, did you write that – is that your blog?

August 7, 2005 @ 6:33 pm | Comment

It’s good to see people exercising their God given Second Amendment rights.

August 7, 2005 @ 9:38 pm | Comment


That’s fabulous work and I’ve posted a little something on your blog.

Taking bribes is wrong, but a court should always take circumstances into account when pronouncing sentence. It appears that Bing did not do this purely for himself but felt frustrated by the lack of good he could do for the community. Companies frequently sponsor cities, communities, schools, etc in return for some kind of benefit to them such as free advertising or a monopoly on one kind of activity.

If corruption is so endemic in China, is taking bribes in this way wrong? Who knows. However I think the court had no option really, as it would have been under severe political pressure to visibly punish corruption.

About the villagers. Well polluting the environment is wrong. But I think it is an indication about how Beijing is failing to help many people, BUT more importantly I believe it shows what happens when people feel they have no recourse but to take matters into their own hands. If Chinese politicians and officials were directly accountable to the people, then these kinds of people wouldn’t break the law this way. But because China is an autocracy, they unsurprisingly feel isolated from the decision making bodies in their own country – the fact that top politicians always appear in foreign-cut suits, driven in luxury cars, etc probably doesn’t make them feel any better considering they’re so poor.

August 8, 2005 @ 8:31 am | Comment

Hi, Richard, it’s my blog but it is orginally for a small circle and I am not ready to publicize it.
Thank you for your comments. Actually there is another smiliar case involving bigger amount of money earlier. An accountant in Shandong Province took money (probably 10 times or 100 times of this one) of her organization and sent to poor innerland schools. She was then determined as lunatic person clinically. we all know it’s wrong But what can do we say?

August 8, 2005 @ 10:13 am | Comment

Lin, once you post it on a blog, it’s easy for others like me to find. I search the technorati posts on China every day, which is how I found your article. Good work!

August 8, 2005 @ 10:17 am | Comment

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