It is said that China is being rebuilt with a wrecking ball, and all around there is evidence that this is true.
Homes are being destroyed at an alarming rate to make way for more profitable development, and very little thought is given to what residents are supposed to do next.
It's a frenzy that leaves people floundering. And just as government officials will do anything to overtake land from people who are settled there, those people will in turn react with drastic measures.
A recent article translated from Chinese at World Crunch (originally published in the Economic Observer), chronicles recent and devastating acts committed by people who had their rights trampled on in the name of development.
The list is sobering:
- December 2009, Tang Fuzhen, a woman from the southwestern Sichuan province, burned herself to death following the forced demolition of her home.
- In September 2010, three members of the Zhong Rujiu family in southeastern Jiangxi province poured gasoline over their heads because of a bungled compensation deal.
- In late January, Chen Feng, a farmer in southeastern Guangdong province reportedly decapitated a ranger on the nature reserve where Feng had been renting land. He had been repeatedly told to evacuate the property, and had requested to leave after the New Year. His request was refused, at which time he turned on a ranger and then committed suicide by taking poison.
- On May 26, a disgruntled farmer set off a series of explosions in Fuzhou, Jiangxi province, which shook the prosecutor’s office, a government office, and the district food and drug administration building.
As Wei Yingjie writes, "As long as forced demolitions are arbitrarily imposed, and local governments continue to act despotically, violent protests will continue. ...
"Even if the New China is built with a wrecking ball, surging hatred and indignation can bring it all crumbling down again."