Saturday, June 18, 2005

The Iron Rice Bowl

In Taiwan we are inundated with news about the economic miracle that is capitalist China. Taiwanese companies and people have been rushing to China with dreams of getting rich since restrictions on investment were lifted in the late 1980's and early 1990s. Coincedentally these restrictions were lifted at the same time western countries were prohibited from investing in China because of a little uprising in Tiananmen Square. Pan-blue politicians in Taiwan use the 'carrot,' of getting rich to convince the Taiwanese populace that life under China will be beneficial to all. Lien Chan and James Soong dream of the day when they can sell Taiwan to China. They rarely mention the big stick wielded by the government in Beijing. The constant message is that everyone in China is benefiting from the economic growth in China and Taiwan should prosper as well.

The truth of the matter is that not everyone in China is driving BMWs while chatting into their new camera/pda/cell phone. Some argue that life in China is now harder for the majority of the Chinese population. The spoils of authoritarian capitalism have not trickled down to the people who need it the most, the farmers. The iron rice bowl promised by Mao has been dismantled. Beijing claims that people no longer want or desire government jobs and a social safety net. The events detailed in the following video challenge their position.

This home video from ifilm is very poor quality and shows one of two things: farmers rioting in Hebei or government sponsored thugs crushing a demonstration by farmers in Hebei. I couldn't tell who was being attacked, the farmers or the thugs but you get the gist of what happened. The cause of the riot according to the Guardian was farmers trying to fight to hold on to their land.
According to the Beijing News, six villagers and one attacker were killed in the incident and at least 48 people were injured, eight of them seriously. The fighting, which occurred last Saturday, was reportedly the latest and most violent of several assaults by up to 300 thugs who were hired by a local utilities company to force the peasants off their land.
At the very least Pan-Blues in Taiwan should be happy to know that they aren't the only Chinese leaders currently hiring thugs to carry out their dirty business. This age old practice perfected by Chang Kai-Shek works as well today as it did in Shanghai with the Green Gang or during the White Terror era.

While trying to find information for this piece I was reminded of many other cases of social unrest in China. Some fairly recent incidents of social unrest are detailed in this Washington Post article. This Christian Science Monitor article details eight major acts of violence against the Chinese government. These articles basically detail the numerous problems facing China in addition to rising ethnic tensions, corruption and high taxes. Apparently a few people in China aren't very happy with their current leadership.


Red A said...

It's good news when the people start rioting over property rights. It's bad news for communists.

Sean Reilly said...

Ahhh, Soong and Chan; fit to be a pair of arch-villians in some surreal Japanese comic book.

Soong would be the ladykiller, going around ripping off old ladies life savings with Chan, in the back of their lair ripping the wings off bugs with a high pitched giggle.

Their secret super powers?

Billions of Dollars worth of Black Gold and Crocodile Tears when the chips are down.