Gateway Pundit on the growing democracy movement in China

Well, he’s certainly not my favorite blogger, but his post on the barbarism in Taishi and the push for democracy among those people who don’t give a damn about democracy is worth a look. The Rebecca MacKinnon post to which he links is also a must-read.

Update: Perhaps Running Dog says it best.

The Discussion: 7 Comments

Richard, some sites have started adding an asterisk after hyperlinks (like the two in this post) that are blocked in China. It’s a good idea for those of us who might get our connections ruined in we click too quickly.

October 10, 2005 @ 8:50 am | Comment

…or another idea might be to paste the linked (blocked) post in the comments and say so in the post. That would be ultra-convenient for those us who live behind the Great Firewall.

October 10, 2005 @ 8:52 am | Comment

I forgot MacKinnin is blocked (all praise the wisdom beind the Great Firewall) — it’s a long post, will see what I can do.

October 10, 2005 @ 8:54 am | Comment

This is MacKinnon’s post, but I’m too tired to do the html right now. Tabbed paragraphs are blockquoted.

Here his how the chilling account by the Guardian’s Benjamin Joffe-Walt begins:

The last time I saw Lu Banglie, he was lying in a ditch on the side of the street – placid, numb and lifeless – the spit, snot and urine of about 20 men mixing with his blood, and running all over his body.

I had only met him that day. He was to show me the way to Taishi, the hotspot of the growing rural uprisings in China. It felt like heading into a war. Taishi is under siege, I was warned. The day I arrived a French radio journalist and a Hong Kong print journalist were rumoured to have been beaten somewhere around Taishi.

The Taishi election had also been scheduled for that very day, and news of a hunger strike by one of the two most famous figures in Taishi had just come out.

Joffe-Walt describes how Lu got in a taxi with him to take him to Taishi, when their car was surrounded by men in uniform and some men in plainclothes. After the men in uniform left here’s what happened:

The men outside shouted among themselves and those in uniform suddenly left. Those remaining started pushing on the car, screaming at us to get out. They pointed flashlights at us, and when the light hit Mr Lu’s face, it was as if a bomb had gone off. They completely lost it. They pulled him out and bashed him to the ground, kicked him, pulverised him, stomped on his head over and over again. The beating was loud, like the crack of a wooden board, and he was unconscious within 30 seconds.

They continued for 10 minutes. The body of this skinny little man turned to putty between the kicking legs of the rancorous men. This was not about teaching a man a lesson, about scaring me, about preventing access to the village; this was about vengeance – retribution for teaching villagers their legal rights, for agitating, for daring to hide.

They slowed down but never stopped. He lay there – his eye out of its socket, his tongue cut, a stream of blood dropping from his mouth, his body limp, twisted. The ligaments in his neck were broken, so his head lay sideways as if connected to the rest of his body by a rubber band.

We were probably in the car another five to eight minutes. The front windows were open and various men were reaching in to unlock my door. I held my hand tight to the lock. They punched me, twisted my wrist, tried everything possible with a quick grab to get me out. But I wouldn’t let go, and I defended myself while watching Mr Lu get beaten through the window.

Eventually, my translator got out. I followed. They opened my pen, searched my pockets, underwear and socks, asked my translator if his watch could record anything. They asked what we were doing in Taishi. They found my Chinese press pass. “You foreigners you are ruining Taishi,” they screamed. “You write write write so much about what’s happened here that all these businesses have fled the new industrial zone.”

Read the whole thing. The Guardian’s Jonathan Watts has more background. More from Reuters and Interfax, which reports:

In a separate incident, reporters with French Radio and the South China Morning Post were also severely beaten after trying to visit Taishi, which is situated in the Panyu district of the Guangdong provincial capital, Guangzhou.

The villagers sought to exercise the rights enshrined in China’s village democracy statutes, which allow them to petition for the recall of the elected local village head. They were angered by the lack of consultation surrounding the 133-hectare land development project, and also made allegations of corruption and the embezzlement of local funds.

After securing the required number of signatures and submitting the petition calling for the recall of village Party Committee chairman Chen Jinling at the end of July, the villagers became subject to reprisals from gangs hired by the local government. The intimidation and arrest of residents escalated into a series of bitter protests and violent crackdowns.

The Beijing-based human rights lawyer, Guo Feixiong, was arrested last week after serving as the legal representative of Taishi residents in the attempt to remove Chen Jinling. Guo is now believed to be on a hunger strike.

Despite an official media gag, the Taishi protests have become something of a national cause celebre. A number of prominent bulletin board websites have been forced to close down after running extensive discussions of the issue.

Although the central government has been pushing for the extension of grass-roots rural democracy, village and county governments have been reluctant to relinquish their stranglehold on local decision-making. Legislation to force local authorities to consult local people has met with only mixed success.

When I worked as a journalist in China, usually the thugs – and certainly the police – were too smart to let these things happen in front of foreign journalists. Not this time.

Despite a press blackout, events over the summer in Taishi gained nationwide attention in China through the internet. A popular online forum was forced to shut down all discussion of Taishi, then later the whole forum website got shut down. Hong Kong-based blogger and media analyst Roland Soong has been documenting the Taishi developments and related media/internet crackdowns on his EastSouthWestNorth blog.

Internet bulletin boards and forums (not blogs, interestingly) have made Taishi a cause of nationwide concern. The government will now do everything it can to stifle all online discussion of the events surrounding the villagers’ quest for more democratic representation. China’s top leaders ought to do the right thing: they should make sure that the perpetrators of Lu’s murder and other unlawful beatings are arrested and tried. I am not holding my breath.

09:24 PM in China, Freedom of Speech, Human Rights | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (3)

October 10, 2005 @ 8:56 am | Comment

That’s great Richard, thanks. It makes life very convenient for us here in China.

October 10, 2005 @ 9:02 am | Comment


China’s top leaders ought to do the right thing: they should make sure that the perpetrators of Lu’s murder and other unlawful beatings are arrested and tried. I am not holding my breath.

I agree with you on this.

I have been thinking, perhaps it is not a bad idea to start political or structural reforms in certain specified villages, townships or even cities. Not all of China should do the same at the same time.

October 10, 2005 @ 11:31 am | Comment

But ZHJ, this is precisely how “political structural reform’ has been implemented in PRC. A very few areas are chosen as trial projects where reforms are implemented. For example experiments in Sichuan in electing village party secretaries. These began some 14 years ago, but were ignored throughout the JZM era. Only now are they being popularised. Gee could this have anything to do with a HJT protege running Sichuan today?

October 10, 2005 @ 9:28 pm | Comment

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