China: 30 Years of Capitalism-Restored Brings Toxic Harvest of Displacement for Millions

Cancer victim faces China land battle

The demolished site where Yao Baohua's house still stands, in the city of Changzhou, on March 13, 2013 (AFP, Peter Parks)

The demolished site where Yao Baohua’s house still stands, in the city of Changzhou, on March 13, 2013 (AFP, Peter Parks)

The Yao home is the last one standing in the rubble of a vast development site in Changzhou, a Chinese “nail house”, the moniker earned for both their physical appearance and their owners’ stubborn resistance.

The former mathematics teacher is one of the few to make a stand against the devastating side effects of China’s breakneck urbanisation, which can see entire villages uprooted to make way for industry and housing developments — often with the help of corrupt officials and police.

“Everyone else has gone, fight by fight, tear by tear,” said the 75-year-old, breathing heavily in a bed at Changzhou People’s Number Two hospital, recovering from an operation on a stomach tumour.

“But I will never give up. It is an illegal development,” he added, raising his fists defiantly as aggressive security staff forced out his visitors.

Yao’s plight is typical of disputes over land expropriation that China’s then premier Wen Jiabao said last year “are still very serious and the people are still very concerned about them”.

China has passed a series of regulations in recent years to protect land rights, including outlawing the use of violence during evictions and stipulating market rate compensation must be paid to relocated residents.

But local officials often ignore the rules, say researchers and campaigners. Continue reading

China’s New Eco-Warriors

Monday 13 August 2012
Thanks to micro-blogs and the Internet spreading the word, people in China have become more and more aware of environmental issues, taking a stand against big corporations.
China's New Eco-Warriors
– (Occupy Vienna)
By Harold Thibault
LE MONDE/Worldcrunch

QIDONG – At 18-years-old, Li Wei does not look like a dissident. She is mostly focused on her studies in accountancy, her friends – with whom she is always in contact – and chatting with her sister. However, none of that stopped the young girl – who has given us a false name because of the difficult situation in her hometown of Qidong – from participating in a protest that escalated in the ransacking of the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) offices.

Protesters had been gathering since sunrise on Saturday July 28 in this small town one hour’s drive north of Shanghai. As the day passed, the local government’s offices were stormed. Administration documents flew from the windows while the angered crowd grabbed at the shirt of the PCP secretary, overcome by the extent of the movement. “We have to mobilize to protect the environment, this is our hometown,” says Li Wei, sitting in the restaurant run by her parents.

Protests against polluting industries have multiplied recently due to citizens becoming increasingly aware of the ecological impacts created by economic development. Even state-run television channels are now talking about the environment as a priority in China, with young people spreading the word via micro-blogs. “People now realize that the fight against pollution is serious, as there are scarce few places in the world where industrialization is having such a heavy and direct impact on the masses,” says environmentalist Ma Jun. Continue reading