Date: Fri, 10 Oct 97 10:23:07 CDT
From: rich@pencil (Rich Winkel)
Subject: China: Rallies Against State Privatization
/** labr.global: 348.0 **/
** Topic: Wuhan Rallies Against Privatization **
** Written 5:27 PM Oct 9, 1997 by labornews in cdp:labr.global **
Since mid-May in 1997, once again more than 500,000 peasants assembled, staged parades and demonstrations, and filed petitions in over 50 counties in Hunan, Hubei, Anhui, and Jiangxi provinces.
In some localities in Hunan and Jiangxi, such activities turned into riots. The Beijing authorities became panic-stricken. One after another, they issued a total of six documents and sent out over 70 work teams to investigate the situation.
The April issue of Dong Xiang journal carried an article:
Rebellion Spreads to Nine Provinces, Autonomous Regions, reporting
that between winter 1996 and spring 1997, several riots, disturbances,
and rebellions broke out in the rural areas of 36 counties in nine
provinces and autonomous regions with the participation of nearly
380,000 peasants in demonstration, parade, and petitioning.
As a result of this on 29 April the Chinese Communists held an emergency meeting of party and government leaders from various provinces (autonomous regions) and municipalities under the direct administration of the central government. At the meeting Li Peng put forward five policies and measures to handle the problems concerning rural areas and peasants.
However, what are the results? Mass Demonstrations by 120,00 Peasants in Hubei Province Since mid-May, once again more than 500,000 peasants in more than 270 townships and villages in over 50 counties in Hunan, Hubei, Anhui, and Jiangxi provinces staged parades and demonstrations and carried out petitioning activities.
Between 14 and 19 May, nearly 120,000 peasants in more than 60
townships and villages in Jingshan, Tianmen, Qianjiang, and Xiantao
counties in Jingzhou Prefecture, Hubei Province, staged parades and
demonstrations and filed petitions on more than 70 occasions accusing
the authorities of
exploiting and fleecing the peasants.
Nearly 3,000 peasants assaulted the party and government institutions in Tianmen County. They clashed with the public security and armed police forces on 18 May. According to a local report, more than 90 people were injured. Major Riots Provoked by 200,000 Peasants in Hunan Province Between 17 and 22 May, nearly 200,000 peasants in over 80 townships and villages in Lixian, Linli, Nanxian, Anhua, Ningxiang and other counties in Yiyang and Changde prefectures, Hunan Province, assembled, staged parades and demonstrations, and filed petitions on more than 80 occasions. On 20 May, urban laid-off workers in Yiyang and Changde also participated in the activities of assembling, staging parades and demonstrations, and filing petitions. In Yiyang City, Lixian and Ningxiang counties, incidents of burning cars of party, government and public security organs broke out. Peasants in Lixian County assaulted the county government, and clashed with the public security and armed police forces.
According to a local report, 57 people were injured during the clash, and three persons died of serious injuries. Major Riots Provoked by 100,000 Peasants in Jiangxi Province Between mid-May and mid-June, more than 100,000 peasants in over 70 townships and villages in Xiushui, Yifeng, Anfu, Wanan, Xingguo, and other counties in Jiujiang, Yichun, and Jian prefectures in Jiangxi Provinces assembled, staged parades and demonstrations, and filed petitions on more than 100 occasions.
Incidents of peasants seizing the county party and government buildings, and attacking supply and marketing cooperatives for chemical fertilizer and cement were reported in Xiushui, Anfu, Wanan, and other counties. Over 800 peasants assaulted the public security bureau in Yifeng County and confronted the soldiers and policemen for more than 70 hours. More than 130 peasants were arrested in a clash.
According to a Internal Reference report, some of the rural party and
government cadres at the township and village levels also encouraged
peasants to demonstrate and personally participated in the procession,
and put forward the slogans such as
Down with the urban
bureaucratic exploiting class and share the wealth of new local
overlords in the countryside and
establish peasants' own
In Xiushui, Wanan, and Xingguo counties, incidents of encircling provincial- and prefectural-level leading party and government cadres were reported. Finally the local armed forces had to be mobilized to rescue the besieged cadres.
Over 70,000 Peasants Staged Parades in Anhui Province, End Up in Bloody Accidents Between 20 May and 17 June, nearly 70,000 peasants in over 50 townships and villages in Lifeng, Funan, Xiaoxian, Luan, Huoshan, and other counties in Fuyang, Suxian, and Luan prefectures, Anhui Province, staged parades and demonstrations, held rallies, and filed petitions on more than 60 occasions. Incidents of peasants raiding party and government buildings, occupying the offices in charge of confidential and important files, and seizing guns and ammunition of the armed police forces took place in Lifeng and Luan counties.
On 15 June, an incident of more than 500 peasants stopping a freight train, seizing cargo, and clashing with the railway police was reported. It was learned that more than 40 people were injured and 11 persons died (including 5 public security guards and policemen). The Anhui provincial authorities formed an investigation team to investigate this incident.
Over 70 Investigation Teams, Six Documents In the face of the major riots participated in by over 500,000 peasants in four provinces, the CPC Central Committee and the State Council had sent out more than 70 investigation and specially selected teams to go to the rural areas in 83 counties in Hunan, Hubei, Jiangxi, and Anhui to understand and investigate the violent protests lodged by peasants recently and the problems that the party and government departments are faced with in the course of implementing the policies on agriculture and rural areas.
Meanwhile the CPC Central Committee, the State Council, and the
relevant departments had, one after another, issued six documents in
this connection between 12 May and 23 June. On 12 May, the CPC Central
Committee and the State Council had issued a circular:
Implementation of Guidelines and Policy Concerning Agriculture and
Rural Areas in an All-Round Manner.
This document criticized party and government organizations for ignoring their work on agriculture and rural areas, willfully working out the various policies and measures that undermine agricultural development, hamper peasants' enthusiasm in farming, and lead to peasants' defiance and riots.
On 19 May, the General Office of the State Council and the Ministry of
Agriculture issued a circular:
On Conscientiously and Firmly
Carrying Out Work in Purchasing Agricultural Products and Protecting
Peasants' Interests According to Policy. This document warned
local government departments against unhealthy practices which lead to
peasants' defiance such as issuing IOUs, forcing purchasing prices
down, giving short weight, refusing to purchase farm products,
imposing exorbitant new taxes and levies, imposing arbitrary charges,
and offering gifts to cadres.
On 23 May, the General Office of the CPC Central Committee and the
General Office of the State Council issued a circular:
Handling and Solving Problems Concerning Incidents of Petitioning,
Demonstration, Procession, and Assembly by Peasants. This document
pointed out that in some districts, public security and armed police
forces and militiamen were mobilized to disperse the people who were
filing petitions, demonstrating, parading, and assembling. Sanguinary
conflicts had occurred, worsening the situation. In some of the
localities, peasants were arrested en masse.
This had intensified the contradiction. The document also criticized the use of fire arms which made things worse.
In a reply to the Ministry of Public Security, the State Council
issued a circular on 28 May, entitled:
On Resolutely Striking at
Organized Armed Violence and Riotous Activities.
This document was a reply to the request for instruction submitted by the Hunan provincial government and public security department and the Anhui provincial government and public security department on how to handle incidents involving peasants in townships and villages who organized armed forces to attack township governments, supply and marketing cooperatives, and public security organs. This document demanded that all organized armed organizations of violence be firmly dealt with and banned. Those who persistently carry out violent activities and refuse to surrender their weapons should be firmly and resolutely hit. One must not become soft-hearted in dealing with them and tolerate their activities.
On 15 June, the General Office of the CPC Central Committee and the
General Office of the State Council issued a circular:
Dispatching and Organizing Work and Investigation Teams To Stay and
Work in Rural Areas.
This document demanded that the party and government departments at the provincial, prefectural, and county levels establish a long-term surveillance mechanism for rural work. Leading comrades must select an advanced and relatively better place and another backward and relatively complicated place for investigation.
Under no circumstances should they do things like a gust of wind or for appearance's sake. Leading cadres must set their ideas to rights, and be prepared to lead a hard life when they go down to the grassroots level to stay and work there.
On 23 June, the General Office and the Organization Department of the
CPC Central Committee issued a circular:
On Accelerating the
Building and Improvement of Township, Village Party, and Government
This document pointed out that little progress has been made in carrying out the work of building the township and village party and government bodies. Such work has not been started yet in some areas. In some other areas, such work has not even been listed in the work agenda.
The document pointed out that more than 65 percent of the township and village party and government bodies are imperfect, while 30 percent of them are at a standstill or lack the initiative to exercise leadership.
According to an investigation report prepared by the Policy Research Office of the State Council and the Ministry of Agriculture in early June, investigations in 130 townships and villages in 27 counties in Henan, Shanxi, Hubei, Jiangxi, and other provinces showed that 81 township and village party and government leading bodies were at a standstill. They carried out no regular activities as an organization. Nor did they pay party dues. In some townships and villages, patriarchal clans replaced party and government organs in making decisions.
Following the rural rebellions in nine provinces and autonomous regions between last winter and this spring, once again more than 500,000 peasants assembled, filed petitions, and staged parades and demonstrations in more than 50 counties in Hunan, Hubei, Anhui, and Jiangxi provinces.
What merits attention is the fact that this wave of peasants' protests broke out in Hunan and Jiangxi which were the old revolutionary areas where the Chinese Communists launched their peasant movement in the past, particularly in Hunan, Mao Zedong's own home province.
The Hunan people's traditional spirit of being fierce and tough has been well manifested in China's modern and contemporary history. Sure enough, this wave of peasant protests was turned into peasant riots in Hunan and Jiangxi. In the face of this wave of relatively larger-scale peasant riots, the Chinese Communists have become panic-stricken, and issued a total of six documents within one month. They have also sent out more than 70 work and investigation teams.
However, it seems that they can only provide some temporary solutions to the problems without being able to effect a permanent cure. The Chinese regime is now plagued with the labor disturbances caused by a large number of laid-off workers.
Not long ago, when Qiao Shi was on an inspection tour out of Beijing, he called this situation a heavy time bomb. Actually rural areas in China are not so calm either. It is not much of an exaggeration if we call the situation a powder keg. Right now, the Beijing regime is sitting on a powder keg while holding a heavy time bomb. One can easily imagine its future