September 28, 2005

You are on the invidual archive page of Taishi and China loses. Click Simon World weblog for the main page.
Taishi and China loses

The uprising in the village of Taishi hasn't received much coverage in Western media. ESWN has provided good coverage. There is the chronology of events to get you up to speed, the background to a report by Knight Ridder on the revolt in Taishi. Yesterday we noted the People's Daily applauding the CCP's rural election reforms. And ESWN has a clear explanation of the importance of the Taishi elections:

First of all, let us be very clear about what has happened. In essence, this is exceedingly simple.

* Fact: The village committee director of Taishi is elected by popular vote. In April 2005, Chen Jinsheng was elected with more than 60% of the votes.

* Fact: According to Article 16 of the Rural Villagers Organization Law of the People's Republic of China, the people may ask for a recall referendum of the village director if 20% of the eligible voters sign a joint petition. The petition must include some valid reasons. An example of an invalid reason might be the 20% are men who object to a woman being the director, and such a petition may be rejected because it violates other laws against gender discrimination. An example of a valid reason might be failure to publish financial statements for the village. The listed reasons do not have to be proven. For example, the thrust of the Taishi petition is not necessarily about corruption, which leads to a debate over the evidence. The Taishi petition can be about competence: Why is this village running a budget deficit with an accumulated debt of 10 million RMB? Could another village director do better than this one? That is fair and sufficient for a recall vote.

* Fact: After a lot of twists-and-turns and ups-and-downs, most of which are unfair and unjust to the villagers, there was an election to select seven committee members to organize the recall. The seven candidates proposed by the government were resoundingly beaten by the people's own choices. There will be a recall referendum to be held some time in the near future. If the current director Chen Jinsheng is recalled (and this seems very likely), there will be an election for a new director...

Taishi is that big case study.

Yet all the hope of this long running drama has seemingly come to end with a win for the status quo. The SCMP reports the game is over:

Villagers in Taishi, Guangdong province, have given up a three-month battle to remove their unpopular village chief after repeated threats to their lives, according to a lawyer supporting the group. More than 1,000 villagers reluctantly signed a letter circulated by the Yuwoutou township government, which oversees Taishi village, to stop dismissal proceedings against Chen Jinsheng . In another blow to the villagers' fight, the seven committee members elected to the board to oversee Mr Chen's dismissal on September 16 were replaced last week after they resigned. Allegations that Mr Chen misused village funds had led to a spate of protests, including petitions and hunger strikes, since July.

Tang Jingling , a Guangzhou lawyer providing help to the villagers, yesterday said he did not know the backgrounds of the seven new committee members or how they were selected. "But the villagers told me that the original seven-member committee was forced to withdraw from the election committee," he said, without explaining from where the coercion came.

Mr Tang went to Taishi with his lawyer colleague, Guo Yan , and Sun Yat-sun University Professor Ai Xiaoming on Monday to talk to villagers whose relatives were in custody for pushing for the dismissal of Mr Chen. Professor Ai said the group's taxi was chased and forced to stop by security guards who then smashed all the windows.

"The guards were in a frenzy. We were very scared and feared we could be killed," she said.

Miss Guo hitched a ride with a passing motorcyclist to seek help, but guards chased her on the highway and beat her on her head and leg with sticks. Professor Ai said Miss Guo had been left with bruises and a fever. While being chased in the taxi, they had used their mobile phones to call for police help, but no one came.

"We saw a police car drive past in the middle of the attack, but it didn't stop," she said. "We only succeeded in getting away when the taxi driver sped off and took us to Guangzhou police bureau." She said they reported the incident to the police.

Professor Ai, who was an observer of the Taishi village election on September 16, said Taishi was under "terrorist" control. "If people's lives are not safe in Taishi, how can one talk about other human rights," she said.

Professor Ai said the Taishi incident, hailed by outside media as a test case of grass-roots democracy on the mainland, had come to a tragic ending, but she hoped the country could learn from it.

By yesterday, 13 villagers were still in custody after a September 12 riot.

A letter dated September 15 from villagers' adviser Yang Maodong , better known as Guo Feixiong , was only delivered to his lawyer yesterday. It confirmed he had been officially detained since September 13.

Ten people have been jailed for between one and five years over a violent protest last month in which residents attacked government offices and destroyed cars in Hubei province. Earlier reports said thousands of residents, many unemployed, went on the rampage after police used dogs to try to break up a protest over a plan by authorities in nearby Huangshi city to annex the city of Daye.

So much for grass-roots democracy.

posted by Simon on 09.28.05 at 10:43 AM in the Taishi category.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Send a manual trackback ping to this post.

Hong Kong is Booming again, but it’s democracy languishes.
Excerpt: Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper has a special “Report on Hong Kong” and its booming economy, but no mention of democracy. It’s hidden away on their website - no way to do a “special “Report” with their exp...
Weblog: False Positives
Tracked: September 30, 2005 03:27 AM


Post a Comment:


Email Address:



Remember your info?