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October 19, 2005
Silver lining in the Taishi cloud
Whether it is directly related to the recent events in Taishi or not, at least there is the appearance of something good coming out of the whole thing. The SCMP:
Guangdong authorities have pledged to comb through the accounts of every town, village and village group in the province to clear up financial irregularities at the grassroots level...Villagers and farmers lodged about 150,000 petitions with provincial authorities in the first eight months of this year, most relating to alleged corruption over rural land acquisition, problems in village committee elections, and land and forest ownership disputes, the News Express reported.The SCMP's got substantial coverage of the Taishi incident, including a good summary by Leu Siew Ying, a fawning piece on Lu Banglie, an op-ed by Peter Goff on the dangers for Chinese citizens working with foreigners, a point already well made by ESWN last week and a piece by Simon Parry also on the constraints of mainland reporting and the flaws of the international press, starring Jonathan Joffe-Walt and Lu Banglie. While I often have a go at the SCMP, this time they are doing a good job of covering an important story. The articles are reproduced below the jump.
From village protest to national flashpoint
The scourge of corruption has turned Taishi's experiment in grass-roots democracy into a display of people power.
Taishi is a tiny village in the richest and seemingly most open province on the mainland and yet a legitimate attempt by its residents to oust their chief for corruption has been crushed with the help of gangsters. The crackdown exposes the ambiguity of the central government's stance on democracy and underscores its fear that Taishi might have a domino effect in a region riddled with land-related corruption.
Dangers of working with foreigners
Beyond the daily drill of research, press conferences and interviews, foreign journalists in the mainland are inadvertently mired in a menacing world of intrigue and espionage. But the danger is, for the most part, not directed at them, but rather at the people who co-operate with them as they gather news. The mainland is not the world's greatest fan of media scrutiny, to say the least. The foreign press corps have always had to deal with the likes of none-too-secret agents on their tail, phone taps, bugged offices and local employees who are encouraged to operate as government spies.
Life's been tough for injured activist from the very start
Activist Lu Banglie's savage beating in Taishi village was not the first time he found himself in a life-threatening situation. Threats to Mr Lu's life started even before he was born, with his impoverished mother trying repeatedly to end her pregnancy.
Here lies the truth
With only a bruise on his right elbow to show for the beating he was given by thugs in Guangdong, pro-democracy activist Lu Banglie is in a forgiving mood towards the British journalist who told the world he had been mutilated and left for dead. "He seemed young and I don't think he was very experienced," said Mr Lu, 34, as he recovered from his ordeal with friends in Hubei province . "He was caught up in a very frightening situation. In those circumstances it is understandable that he got it wrong."
posted by Simon on 10.19.05 at 10:16 AM in the Taishi category.
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re sun bin's question on village impeachment cases
Excerpt: re sun bin's question on village impeachment cases
Weblog: Bingfeng Teahouse
Tracked: October 19, 2005 12:42 PM
China, democracy and a place called Taishi
Excerpt: There have been two related developments in China's halting steps towards "democracy" in recent times. The first concerns a small village called Taishi. The excellent ESWN blog has a full chronology of events at Taishi....
Weblog: Winds of Change.NET
Tracked: October 20, 2005 03:25 PM
I wish I had a reference to the paper, but I distinctly remember reading that Guangdong has actually been fairly conservative about political reform.
It was a paper that tried to find the coorelation between how widespead village elections were versus other factors particularly income. The conclusion was that the two were not coorelated at all, and that the effectiveness of village elections depended on large part on what the provincial government wanted to do with them.
I'll try to find the paper.posted by: Joseph Wang on 10.19.05 at 11:05 AM [permalink]
Here's one paper by the United Nations that mentions that Guangdong is notably reluctant to implement village elections.
One of the SCMP articles implies the same, calling Guangdong a "renegade" province.
The correlation between political will at the provincial level and effectiveness of village elections certainly makes sense. What it shows is how little control Beijing exercises over Guangdong province. They're so busy with the Beijing-Shanghai battles they don't have time to worry about their richest province.posted by: Simon on 10.19.05 at 11:15 AM [permalink]
Does this explain why Ching Cheong was caught in Guangdong?posted by: doug crets on 10.19.05 at 11:31 AM [permalink]
use the http://tinyurl.com/ to edit your links, tksposted by: bingfeng on 10.19.05 at 11:35 AM [permalink]
is this the paper?posted by: sunbin on 10.19.05 at 12:52 PM [permalink]