Skip to content

Reports - 61. page

Farmers Initiate Second Revolution in Land Ownership

In mid December 2007, three headlines appeared on overseas Chinese websites: “40,000 Heilongjiang Farmers’ Declare to the Whole Nation: Permanent and Full Land Ownership,” [1] “About 70,000 Sanmenxia Farmers Declare the Retaking of Land Ownership,” [2] “Jiangsu 250 Farm Families Declare to the Whole Nation: Permanent Ownership of Residence Bases.” [3]

At the time the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) took power in 1949, China was practicing the same private land ownership commonly found in economic history. Land rights, including the rights to ownership, use, lease, transactions, mortgage, gift, and inheritance belonged to individuals. In 1956 the regime began the “Collectivization Movement” in rural China, using political power to centralize the land once distributed to farmers and to implement collective farming by force. Immediately after, [the CCP] speedily rolled out the “Communization Movement,” executing collective land ownership and abolishing private land ownership. From that point on, the government took over all land rights and all land.

Article 10 of the Chinese Constitution stipulates, “Rural lands are collectively owned, but the government can levy land taxes or confiscate lands by compensating the farmers.” From the 1980s until around 1992 and from 2003 onwards, a total of three land “enclosure movements” took place in China. Businessmen with government background looted the farmers’ land at extremely low prices in the name of “representing the country.” According to China Construction Bank, from the beginning of 2001 to May 2007, developers had purchased 2.2 billion square meters (23.7 billion square feet) of land with only 1.296 billion square meters actually developed. About 1 billion square meters of land still remained in the hands of developers, enough to supply the whole country’s real estate market for five years. According to the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, in 2005 there were over 40 million farmers who had lost their land. Over the next five years, as urbanization continues to increase, an additional annual average of 2.65 million Chinese farmers will lose their land over the next five years. According to the Whole Country Land Utilization Planning Outline compiled by the State Council, during the thirty years from 2000 to 2030, 54.50 million mu (8.98 million acres) of farming land will be taken for construction. It’s estimated that with every mu of farm land taken, 1.5 farmers will lose their livelihood. This suggests that China’s “land-losing farmers” will increase from 40 million some years in the past to 110 million in 2030.

In 2007, China’s National People’s Congress passed the Property Rights Law. The law is intended to protect private property. The new law, however, did not make a dent in the current land policy. Even less did it break through the systemic limitations of Chinese socialism. On December 13, 2007, the police gave a criminal detention notice to the family of a civil rights representative who had been helping  Fujin farmers who had lost their land. The police gave a criminal detention notice to Yu Changwu. Representatives for the arrested farmers in Shanxi’s Sanmenxia Reservoir District, Chen Sizhong and Xi Xinji, are under criminal detention. Their arrests have been “formalized” by the Huayin Municipal Procuratorate.
Below is a translation of the Heilongjiang and Sanmenxia Resevoir farmers’ declarations.

Notice of Dongnangang Village, Fujin City, Heilongjiang Province 72 villages, 40,000 Heilongjiang Farmers’ Declare to the Whole Nation: Permanent and Full Land Ownership [1]

We are 40,000 farmers in a total of 10 townships’ 72 administrative villages including Changan Township, Xinglong Townships, and Toulin Tonwship in Fujin City, Heilongjiang Province. In response to Fujin officials at various levels using the need for development of the country as an excuse to forcibly take 1.5 million mu (0.25 million acres) of farmland and wilderness since 1994, we declare our ownership rights as follows:

1. We, 40,000 farmers in 72 administrative villages, have ownership rights to the 1.5 million mu of land. With villages as the boundaries and farm families as the units, the originally occupied collective land [will] all be distributed equally among the whole body of villagers.

2. A farm family’s land ownership rights include the right to use, the right to earn, the right to inherit, , and the to negotiate and the right to set prices when the government or developers want to take the land for development.

3. Over 900 villagers from Dongnangang Village, Changan Township took the lead in taking back 996 shuang (about 15,000 mu) of occupied land, and have already distributed it evenly among the whole body of villagers. Before doing so, they dismissed the former head of the village, who had colluded with officials who encroached on the farmers’ collective interest. All other villages will follow this method in succession to regain and evenly distribute the occupied land in each village. Every villagers’ committee and all other self-governing organizations elected by villagers have the responsibility to support the farmers on this proposal [of land-ownership], have the responsibility to organize and lead the entire body of villagers to take back the occupied land that originally collectively belonged to the villagers, and have the responsibility to distribute the land according to the principal of individual equity. [When] encountering collusion between officials and businessmen or forcible requisitions, every villagers’ committee and [every] self-governing organization has the obligation to organize [a] village militia to defend to the death the farmers’ land ownership rights.

4. The CCP’s organizations at various levels and the government at various levels should, in accordance with the revolutionary ideal and the promise of ‘land to the tillers’ in those years, lead the farmers to land reform, like in the early stage of reformation, support the farmers’ land operation rights, respect farmers’ pioneering spirit, and support and protect farmers’ various land rights. The Central Committee of the Party has, for many years, cared about the countryside, cared about why the farmer’s preferential policies were never implemented, and why farmers’ circumstances can never undergo a substantial change. The root [of the problem] is “favor but no implementation.” Completely give the land to the farmers—only then can [this] be the most effective and the most realistic preferential policy. Currently China’s countryside is still fundamentally unsuited for collective operation. When the time is appropriate and when it’s necessary, we, the farmers, will self-organize a collective operation.
5. Collective land in the countryside should belong to the whole body of villagers who form the collective. Farmers have the right to decide together on the form of land ownership. For a long time, the so-called collective ownership, in reality, denied the rights of the farmers as land owners. Various levels of the Fujin municipal government have repeatedly and wantonly occupied and privately possessed farmers’ land in the name of the country and the collective. In reality, [they] have become the ‘landowners.’ But the farmers—the real owners of the land—have been forced to become serfs who toil for the ‘landowners’’ land. Together we decided to change this kind of land ownership. Through ownership by farm families and farm individuals, we truly implement and protect the status of farmers as land owners.

6. We believe, just like at the beginning stage of reformation and opening up—where farmers owned the right to operate the land, great changes took place in the countryside—farmers’ land-ownership rights won by farmers will create even greater changes in the countryside. We, farmers, have suffered enough from pillage, suppression, and the fate of having no help from the heaven and earth. Now we believe that only when farmers directly practice [their] rights, will farmers have rights, and will farmers’ human rights improve.

Land is a farmers’ life; it is the farmers’ greatest human right. [Only when farmers] truly have land-owning rights, can we farmers settle down and get on with our lives, can Chinese farmers settle down and get on with their lives, can the entire country settle down and move on.

December 8, 2007

In Shanxi Province Former Yellow River about 70,000 Sanmenxia Farmers Declare They are Regaining Land Ownership [2]

We are about 70,000 returning farmers [from] 76 administrative villages of Dali County, Huayin City, and Tongguan County. [When] the country built the Sanmenxia Reservoir in the 1950’s, [it] occupied a total of 800,000 mu of our farm land. Through 30 years of blood-and-tears resistance by tens of thousands of migrants, who were forced to leave home, in the 1980s, the State Council appropriated 300,000 mu of land to settle returning migrants. In actuality, the migrants were only given 150,000 mu. Another 150,000 mu of farm land belonging to the farmers as clearly stipulated by the State Council directive, was directly taken by Weinan City and Sanmenxia County officials at various levels, or has been taken in actuality under various names and used by those seeking their own economic interests. Annual land rental alone amounts to 40 to 60 million yuan. Heretofore, close to 120,000 of the 150,000 mu of occupied land has already disappeared from the reported statistics. This is to say that not only have the officials used various means to actually occupy the land, they have also been brazenly swallowed the land. Large and small modern-day “landlords” have appeared in the Reservoir District. For us migrants, the actual average cultivation land is less than 2 mu (0.33 acres) per person. In order to make a living, [we] are forced to pay officials high rent to farm the land that originally belonged to us. Several decades of appeals hasn’t solved [the problem], the procedures stipulated by the law hasn’t solved [the problem.] {mospagebreak}
We, approximately 70,000 Sanmenxia County farmers, now together decide to take back our right to land ownership, and announce the following to the entire country (each of the undersigned is a family representative):

1. Every family of ours has permanent ownership rights to the individually contracted land [in the] total of 150,000 mu originally in the village collective. Land allocation and usage belong to our offspring. We have the right to use, rent, inherit [the land]; if someone wants to develop, rent or occupy [the land], please negotiate with us directly. We only recognize [those] governmental planning agencies that are in accordance with the public interest and [those] taxes stipulated by the law.

2. Every family of ours also has permanent ownership rights to the 150,000 mu of land that were appropriated back to the farmers by the State Council but which have long been occupied and privately possessed by officials at various levels. We will organize together, and directly give back [the land] to each family for permanent ownership according to average farmer acreage, [and] end the many years of illegal occupation and possession of land by officials from various levels.

3. We abandon the original ‘village collective’ form of land ownership. This kind of land [ownership] cannot guarantee farmers’ permanent rights to the land. This kind of ‘village collective’ often cannot accurately reflect the consensus of the entire village of farmers, cannot stop officials and the black force’s illegal infringement of the land [rights] and on other farmers’ interests. Every village committee shall assume the responsibility of protecting farmers’ land rights, and cannot place [its will] above the whole body of farmers, or occupy or allocate land.

4. As to the billions of various migrant fees annually appropriated by the country for the past several decades, we also need to square the account. What belongs to the farmers must be given to the farmers. [We] will also pursue the related illegal behavior, such as corruption, embezzlement, occupation, etc.

5. We have land ownership rights. If, in addition, we can run enterprises in education and health care sector, the three new ‘mountains’ on top of the farmers will be removed. The farmers’ social security will basically be taken care of by itself. In recent years, the Central Committee of the Party has given farmers some economic sops. We believe only farmers’ land rights and entrepreneurial rights are big economic favors. [Only then] can the countryside’s problems be solved from the root, can farmers be equal to the city dwellers, and can [they] participate and share the fruits of modernization. [Only then] can villagers’ self-governing elections [that has been instituted] for the past twenty years truly be decent.
6. We, in the countryside, are very clear: No matter what laws and what policies the government uses, it will be very difficult to manage the land. [If] land rights are again returned into the hands of farmers, those bad forces blinded by greed won’t dare to act recklessly. Because [what] you’ll be occupying, will no longer be collective land. It will be my land, my life root. I’ll risk my life. When the power of the farmers is mobilized, the government will be free from the burden to protect the land. Base level government will then rely on industrial and farming taxes to maintain operation. [It] can no longer depend on taking farmers’ land and engaging in the so-called ‘land finance.’

We, the Reservoir District farmers, send regards to the entire country’s people!

December 12, 2007

End Notes:
[1], December 9, 2007
[2], December 12, 2007
[3] Aboluo Web, December 15, 2007

Shanghai Petitioner Files Lawsuit against Zhou Yongkang

In September 2007, the Beijing Second Intermediate People’s Court formally accepted charges filed by Shanghai petitioner Tong Guojing against the former Minister of Public Security, Zhou Yongkang. On October 16, the second day of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) National Congress, the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) sent a formal reply to Tong. While filing a petition in Beijing in 2005, Tong had been beaten by officials from Beijing’s Shanghai Liaison Office. After responding with an unsuccessful complaint to Beijing’s Public Security Bureau, Tong brought the case to the attention of higher authorities. On September 18, 2006, Tong filed a lawsuit with the Beijing Second Intermediate People’s Court. After one year’s delay, the court accepted his administrative complaint on September 20, 2007, charging Minister Zhou for administrative inaction. This has become a landmark case involving an average Chinese citizen suing a high-level official and has been accepted by a Chinese court previously infamous for lack of judicial independence. The Epoch Times, a US-based weekly newspaper, published several reports on this groundbreaking course of action.

From Epoch Times on October 31, 2007 [1]
“In March of 1990, Tong Guojing’s home was illegally occupied. Not long after moving into temporary housing, he was forced to leave after this temporary home was demolished. In 2003, Tong traveled to Beijing to petition for his case. After being intercepted and beaten many times, Tong began teaching himself law in order to defend his rights.

On December 28, 2005, Tong was dining with a few petitioners in a restaurant near Beijing’s Tiananmen Square when officials from the Shanghai Liaison Office rushed in and beat them. The petitioners called Beijing Public Security Branch for protection but the Public Security Branch refused to take a report, neither documenting any injuries nor taking record of any witness accounts of the incident.”

“Tong complained to public security multiple times about this negligence but his petitions were ignored. In the end, he brought his petition to the Beijing Second Intermediate People’s Court.

“Normally the court is required to reply within 7 days regarding acceptance or rejection of the case, but it took one full year and Tong’s 8 visits for the court to formally decide to accept the case, labeled case number 585, on September 20, 2007. Tong received an official response from the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) on October 16 and expected a court hearing to follow quickly.”

“Shanghai human rights lawyer Zheng Encong found the court’s decision encouraging, and said that this marks a victory in the history of petitioners defending their own rights. Zheng said that this case presented an opportunity for Shanghai petitioners to legally safeguard their own rights. If their rights were violated, they could sue the local Public Security Bureau and even sue the Ministry of Public Security. He did not rule out the possibility that this could initiate a chain reaction in the form of a new wave of lawsuits from petitioners.
He said that Zhou Yongkang should be punished for not fulfilling his responsibility as the Minister. ‘He has the responsibility to protect the safety of petitioners. MPS was funded by taxpayer’s money but failed to fulfill its responsibility.’

Zheng indicated that he had already accepted Tong Guojing’s invitation to be his defense lawyer, preparing for the upcoming hearing in the Beijing court. He feels that whether he can make it to Beijing will be a test of the Party’s progress on democratization.”

“A member of CCP’s Standing Committee of the Politburo, Zhou is Jiang Zemin’s nephew-in-law. Zhou’s current position is Secretary of the Committee of Political and Legislative Affairs (CPLA) of the CCP’s Central Committee. He was formerly Minister of Public Security and First Political Commissar of the Armed Police. As the head of the CCP system’s judicial branch, Zhou is commonly known as ‘da liu mang‘ [2], or ‘chief gangster,’ by the people. [3] 

During Zhou’s leadership of the MPS, public security continued to deteriorate with annual crime rates burgeoning at 17% – 22%. The assessment by the general public is that the MPS is ‘jing fei yi jia’ [4] , ‘a police force colluded with bandits.’ Zhou made an all-out effort to carry out Jiang’s genocidal policy toward the Falun Gong, claiming that ‘harshly cracking down on Falun Gong is the major focus of MPS.’

Zhou worked as the party chief of Sichuan province for many years. Because of that, Sichuan, a 100-million-population province, became a province that persecuted Falun Gong most severely.”

From Epoch Times on November 2, 2007 [5]

“Beijing human rights activist Hu Jia considered the court’s decision unbelievable. Hu said that: ‘we all knew the hidden rules of China’s legal system. CPLA (Committee of Political and Legislative Affairs) is the de facto big brother of China’s underworld society. Zhou is the head of the CPLA and former Minister of Public Security. The President of the Supreme People’s Court and the Procurator-General of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate must report to Zhou. With such power, Zhou is fully capable of controlling all lawsuits in China.

Hu added, ‘This shows that the court has support from a political force above the CPLA. The force may be seeking judicial independence from the CCP or taking advantage of this case to attack Zhou.’”

“Li Tianxiao, a Political Science Ph.D. from Columbia University, said that even though Hu Jintao gained greater authority after the CCP’s 17th National Congress, he is still under threat from Jiang’s faction, as Jiang will tightly cling to power for fear of being punished for the crimes he has committed. Hu should know that only by openly exposing and criticizing Jiang’s crimes can he rid himself of the threats.
Li believed that Hu is attacking Jiang mainly from three levels: the top leadership, the local government, and the political system. On the local governmental level, the attacks started from the corruption case of Zhou Zhengyi and extended to the investigation of Jiang Mianheng, son of Jiang Zemin. Within the political system, Hu accepted the open letter written by Wang Zhaojun, and launched waves of criticism against Jiang by party cadres.

Li said, ‘From the central leadership, the greatest threat to Hu is the CPLA, which directly governs the Armed Police and Public Security. Zhou is a prime culprit in the persecution of Falun Gong and is notorious for bad deeds from his previous positions. No one except for Jiang himself supports him.  Consequently, Hu already aims to gain support from other officials by making Zhou the first target of attack.’

Li added that this case was accepted in September with Zhou as the clear target. On one hand, this serves as Hu’s frontal attack to deter Zhou from entering the Standing Committee of the Politburo; on the other hand, by disallowing the new Minister of Public Security from entering the Politburo and the CCP’s Secretariat of the Central Committee, Hu weakens the powers of the MPS and of Zhou.”

“Political commentator Wu Fan indicated that the case against Zhou Yongkang sends a clear signal of the rivalry between Hu and Jiang inside of the CCP’s high-level leadership. This also shows that Hu is speeding up his attack on Jiang while trying to separate himself from Jiang’s persecution of Falun Gong in preparation for further political moves.
On October 28, Meng Jianzhu replaced Zhou Yongkang as the new Minister of Public Security and as secretary of the CCP committee of the MPS.  The minister of the CCP’s Central Organization Department, Li Yuanchao, ‘commended’ the former Secretary of the CPLA, Luo Gan, along with former Minister of Public Security Zhou Yongkang for ‘strictly guarding against’ and ‘severely attacking’ Falun Gong. These remarks underscore Luo and Zhou’s direct responsibility for the persecution of Falun Gong.

Wu Fan indicated that Hu’s attack on Jiang is systematic and well planned. There is an internal connection between three events: Li Yuanchao’s speech establishing the incriminating facts regarding Zhou, the petitioner’s case against Zhou which has gained acceptance into legal proceedings, and the open letter by Wang Zhaojun appealing for political reform and an ending of the persecution of Falun Gong,”

[1] The Epoch Times, October 31, 2007,
[2] The chief justice of the supreme court of China needs also to report to Zhou Yongkang, because all Chinese government officials must report to Communist Party officials.
[3] 大流氓, pronounced da4 liu2 mang2.
[4] 警匪一家, pronounced jing3 fei3 yi1 jia1.
[5] The Epoch Times, November 2, 2007

The History and Developing Trend on China’s Air Defense Missile System

The growth of China’s aerospace military in 2007 was astonishing, and at the same time, worrisome to some countries. Last year, Beijing sent ballistic missiles to destroy an aged meteorological satellite and launched their first lunar probe, the Chang’e 1. At the same time, China was planning to link up with Russia to explore Mars. Recently the Commission of Science, Technology, and Industry for National Defense (COSTIND) has released news that China plans to launch 15 rockets, 17 satellites, and one manned spaceflight in 2008.

On December 12, 2007, Outlook Weekly, an economic and political weekly magazine run by the Xinhua News Agency, published an article titled “The Developing Trend of China’s Air Defense Missile System.” The author, Liu Erqi, is the chief of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) committee from the Second Research Institute of China Aerospace Science & Industry Corp. The following are translated excerpts of his article. [1]
“Under strict attention from the Party and national leaders, China’s air defense missile system has gone through 50 years of difficult struggle. The Second Research Institute has grown out of the Fifth Research Institute under the Ministry of Defense, with additional experts from other civil and military agencies. The institute is primarily responsible for developing the air defense missile systems. The early technologies were introduced and replicated from the former Soviet Union. Since then, the institute has developed a missile defense system based on its own design, along with learning from other countries’ research results. … Up to the 1990s, the system had developed into a multiple air defense missile weapon system, including three altitudes (high, medium, and low altitude) and four series (medium-to-high altitude, low-to-medium altitude, ultra low-to-low altitude, and portable) of air defense missile weapon systems.

“Currently, the R&D department of the institute is actively upgrading the missile weapons, as well as perfecting the weapon system in long, intermediate, and short ranges. Long range refers to 250 km and above; intermediate range refers to 50 km to 200 km; short range refers to 30 km and below. They are paving the road for developing a digital air defense network.”

“The fist generation air defense missiles, Hongqi No. 1 and No. 2, had the capability of medium-to-high altitude targets. We also developed Hongqi No. 61 that targets low-to-medium objects and Hongying No. 5 portable missiles.”

“In the 1970s, China started to develop its second-generation air defense missile system, while other countries already started R&D for third-generation air defense missile systems. Therefore, our product was a combination of the second- and third-generation from the technological point of view. It is more appropriate to call it a post-second-generation air defense missile system.

“The main characteristics of the second-generation technology include low-altitude capability, small-sized missiles and systems, solidified missile propulsion system, mini-sized electronic devices, and decreased vehicular needs for carrying the weapons.
“The main characteristics of the third-generation technology include anti-guidance air defense systems, improved anti-interference capability, further smaller-sized missiles, multi-target capability, and a multi-weapon coordination system.

“Upon borrowing the technologies used for the Patriot-1, SA-10, Javelin, and Crotale missiles from the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, and France, China developed Qianwei portable missiles, and FM-80 and FM-90 low-altitude short-range missiles. After that, we developed the third-generation medium-to-high altitude, intermediate-and-long-range air defense missile FD-2000.

“It was worthwhile to mention that in the 1980s, the Taiwan area of China, under the help of the United States, developed the Tiangong No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3 air defense missiles modeled from the Patriot missiles of the United States.”

“The air defense missile system was only one type of weapon to protect the China’s air space. Other important directions for developing air defense weapons include guided air-defense artillery shells and laser weapons.”

[1] Outlook Weekly Article: The Developing Trend of China’s Air Defense Missile System, December, 12, 2007

The Media Pays Attention to Human Rights at the Doorstep of the Beijing Olympics

During the months before the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the media is paying attention to China’s human rights. On December 27, 2007, the Beijing Public Securities Department arrested Hu Jia, a respected AIDS activist and human rights defender on the charge of “inciting the subversion of state power.” Hu’s wife and their newly born baby are under house arrest. Intellectuals and human rights defenders in China co-signed an open letter to urge the authorities to release Hu. The non-governmental organization for freedom of the press, Reporters Without Borders in France issued a statement condemning the Chinese government for violating its commitment to be open to the foreign media for the Olympics, and for obstructing lawyers from visiting and supplying legal aid to Hu and his family.

From Voice of America, January 8, 2008 [1]

“A large number of Chinese intellectuals and human rights defenders issued a statement urging the release of human rights attorney Hu Jia, who the Beijing Public Securities Department arrested on December 27, 2007, for “inciting the subversion of state power.” Hu Jia’s lawyer and other Beijing’s human rights attorneys expressed that Hu indeed talked about many human rights problems in China, but that did not mean he should be suspected of ‘inciting the subversion of state power.’”

“On Monday, more than 60 scholars, intellectuals and human rights advocates, including Liu Xiaobo, Zhang Zuhua, Ai Xiaoming, Wang Lixiong and Wei Se, co-signed a statement urging the authorities to release Hu Jia as soon as possible. These intellectuals and scholars call for people inside and outside of China to pay attention to Hu Jia’s personal health and his family’s predicament. The statement also called for the international community and all circles within China to pay close attention both to China’s human rights stance and to whether the Chinese government fulfilled its promise made when it bid for the Olympic Games: to improve human rights.”

From Radio Free Asia, January 11, 2008, [2]

“While the arrest of Hu Jia attracts widespread attention from China and overseas, the Beijing authorities tightly block the relevant information. On Friday, a UK TV broadcaster, Channel 4, went to Hu Jia’s home in Beijing and managed to interview his wife, Zeng Jinyan, through a barred window for a few minutes on tape. The reporter, Lindsey Hilsum, told RFA: ‘She (Zeng Jinyan) appeared at the window when we arrived. I asked about her current situation, what happened when Hu Jia was arrested on January 27, and whether she had any resources for living. That’s basically it.’

“Jinyan, under house arrest with her new-born baby, faced the camera and said the police had cut her telephone line, and took her computer, mobile phone and bank card. Her mother is able to go and buy food, but they’re running out of cash. Friends who try to bring things for the baby are blocked from giving them to her.”

“To protect their video clips, the TV crew quickly left before the police arrived. They attempted to go to Hu’s home on Thursday, but the police wouldn’t allow it, using the excuse that it was an ongoing criminal investigation. Hilsum said, ‘When we visited yesterday, they had a security line marked around the apartment compound. The police said that there was a criminal case being investigated inside and nobody was allowed to enter. Therefore today we approached the building from the side.”

“Not only do the authorities block the overseas media, but two attorneys Li Jingsong and Li Fangping were prohibited from conducting their interview with Zeng Jinyan, which had been scheduled for Friday.

“It was learned that on Thursday, the authorities placed Li Jinsong under house arrest for several hours  in order to conduct “recommendations and communication.” When reporters inquired, the lawyer was, for the time being, unwilling to say much.  

Headquartered in Paris, France, Reporters Without Borders issued a second statement on Friday to condemn the Chinese government’s violation of its commitment to be open to foreign media for the Olympics, and its obstruction of lawyers’ visits and legal aid to Hu’s family.”
On January 1, 2008, more than 10,000 Chinese citizens publicized an open letter appealing for the Chinese government’s ratification of the “International Convention on Civil Rights and Political Rights” before the Olympics. Here is a report on this issue from Voice of America, January 1, 2008. [3]
“Co-signed by more than 14,000 professors and lawyers, the open letter stated that as all eyes are turning to the Beijing Olympics, the government’s ratification of the ‘International Convention on Civil Rights and Political Rights’ will win the world’s respect and glory for China.

“The open letter said that by hosting the Olympics, China should show not only the numbers of gold medals, but also the ‘the determination to fulfill its commitment to respect and defend human rights.’

“Although China signed the ‘International Convention on Civil Rights and Political Rights’ in 1998, China’s National People’s Congress has yet to ratify the Convention.

“The open letter urges the State Council to bring up the agenda to the People’s Congress to be in session in March 2008, so that the Convention will be unconditionally ratified before the Olympics.”

“Xia Yeliang, a co-signor of the letter and Peking University Economics Professor, said that the 17th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party’s report emphasized administrative reform, and some democratic elections within the party or grass-roots democratic elections. However, if the reform does not touch the fundamental political system, or restructure the political and legal framework, there is no way for the Chinese people to truly obtain political freedom and rights.

“One of the initiators of the open letter, Beijing’s human rights defender and lawyer Teng Biao stated, ‘One of my personal concerns is that, when the Chinese government ratifies the Convention, it will refuse to take the concrete steps required by the convention to achieve systemic reform. Like many other conventions, the Chinese government may approved it, but never implement it.”

1. VOA News, January 8, 2008
2. RFA, January 11, 2008
3. VOA News, January 1, 2008

On Belarus and China

Economic and trade cooperation between Belarus and China has been strengthening, as Belarus’ President Alexander Lukashenko welcomes massive foreign direct investment from China. Analysts believe that Belarus needs capital from China to assuage current difficulties accompanying increased prices on oil imports from Russia. Belarus under Alexander Lukashenko remains a Soviet-style planned economy. For a sense of hope, Belarus is looking to the China model, a highly centralized political system together with an economy marked by high growth. At the same time, the two countries are building closer military collaboration.

Report from Voice of America on January 9, 2008: [1]
“President Lukashenko of Belarus said on Wednesday that huge potential exists for collaboration with China in areas of the economy, trade, and investment and that Belarus will create the best conditions to welcome investment from China. He added that his country has felt enormous interest from Chinese investors in the Belarusian economy, and that there will be not be a single obstacle to Chinese investment. Lukashenko gave the above speech when meeting with Zhou Xiaochuan, the governor of China’s central bank. President Lukashenko also thanked China for providing support and help. He said that Belarus will become a real fortress for China in Europe. Lukashenko stressed that RMB has become the foreign exchange reserve currency at Belarus’ central bank.

“Russian media reported that after Putin’s government significantly raised the export price of oil and eliminated economic subsidies to Belarus, Belarus has been facing a series of problems. This has lead Lukashenko to actively cooperate with China, Iran, and Venezuela, so as to obtain more resources to procure energy from Russia. Therefore, high-level Chinese official visits are always welcomed and are conducted in a high-profile fashion.

“Former President of Belarus Stanislav Shushkevich criticized Lukashenko for not conducting economic reform and allowing the economy to remain as a Soviet-style planned economy. He added, ‘the leadership of Belarus governs the country as a farmer on collective farms. For many years, the economy is heavily dependent upon cheap energy from Russia. Lukashenko is bringing the whole country to a dead end with an anti-market economic policy.’”

Report from Voice of America on October 26, 2006: [2]

“China and Belarus have been increasing their military cooperation. Belarusian President Lukashenko recently expressed that arms trade between the two countries is very important. On cooperation in military technologies, Belarus signed 210 agreements or contracts with China, with 190 of them implemented. According to the Defense Ministry of Belarus, the size of the bilateral arms trade amounts to 250 million U.S. dollars over the past 10 years. The figure, although very small compared to the arms trade between China and Russia, is very important to Belarus.”
“In mid-September, Chinese Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan led a large delegation to Belarus. Cao was treated with a high standard of hospitality. President Lukashenko issued a ‘People’s Friendship Medal’ to Cao, complimenting his outstanding contributions in supporting the sharing of military technology between the two countries. During the four-day visit, Belarus displayed for the Chinese delegation everything they wanted to see, including newly developed weaponry. A large group of Chinese experts are also part of the China delegation to Belarus. This is a sign that the two sides are discussing details of arms trade deals. According to Belarusian Defense Minister Leonid Maltsev, Belarus has submitted a package of plans for implementing this military and technological cooperation. Once the China side has responded, the plans can be carried out before the end of next year.”

“Military experts believe that Belarus is more proactive than China on the issue of arms trade.”

“Russian media reported that Belarus is promoting a newly developed super short range air-defense missile system which is used to attack precision cruise missiles in their last leg of flight. … Additionally, the Chinese military is also interested in Belarus’ mobile radar system, automatic power control system, etc.”

“Belarus hopes to alleviate its isolated predicament on the international stage by sharing China’s military technology. The Lukashenko regime is deemed as the last dictatorship on the European continent. The United States and the European Union are imposing various sanctions against Belarus while its key ally, Russia, has recently pressured Lukashenko for political and economic benefits. Under the current situation, Lukashenko announced China as its primary foreign policy target in his spring State of the Union message, delivered earlier this year. He complimented China for supporting Belarus on many issues.”

“During Lukashenko’s visit to China at the end of last year, the two countries agreed to set up a bilateral military equipment and technology coordination commission. The two sides also decided to strengthen cooperation and exchange in military science and technology, including joint R&D on weaponry. At present, dozens of People’s Liberation Army officers are accepting advanced training in Belarus.”

[1] Voice of America, January 9, 2008
[2] Voice of America, October 26, 2006

Innocent Victim Beaten to Death after Filming City Officer’s Violence

Wei Wenhua, the manager of a water resources construction company in Tianmen City, Hubei Province, was beaten to death on January 7, 2008, by dozens of Municipal Law Enforcement officers known as chengguan in Tianmen, Hubei. He was beaten after using his mobile phone camera to film the officers in a violent clash with protesters. The death of Wei triggered an outrage from local residents. Municipal Law Enforcement chief Qi Zhengjun was fired because of Wei’s death. This is one of the few cases where Chinese official media covered social injustice and large scale unrest in a high profile way.

The following are excerpts from articles published in domestic and overseas Chinese language media.

On January 11, 2008, Chengdu Daily reported that,[1]

“Tianmen is a mid-sized city in the Wuhan metropolitan area, with a population of 280,000. Although the city generates more than 10, 600 cubic meters of trash every day, the city has to bury the trash in the open as it has no trash management facilities. In 2005, the Environment Protection Bureau signed a two-year contract with the village committee of Wanba in the suburbs of Tianmen to assign two fish ponds for burying the cities’ trash.

“Villagers living near the ponds did not agree with dumping trash into the ponds because of the strong foul smells, swarms of mosquitoes and flies, and deterioration of the water quality. Starting from January 1, 2008, the villagers blocked the garbage trucks from entering the area.

“Around 3 pm on January 7, the villagers blocked the garbage truck again. Around 5 pm, staffers of the local Environment Protection Bureau reported this to the chief of the Municipal Law Enforcement Bureau, who sent more than 50 officers to the spot. The officers, also known as chengguan, confronted the villagers. Several villagers were hurt during the fight.”

“According to Wang Liangfa, Vice Mayor of Tianmen and a member of the Standing Committee of the Chinese Communist Party of Tianmen city, the Municipal Law Enforcement Bureau has 80 formal officers, all of whom were hired following a process of competitive examinations. Wang testified that those who participated in the fight on the 7th were all official employees.

“Around 5:10 pm, Wei Wenhua, General Manager of the Tianmen Water Conservancy Construction Company, was driving back to downtown Tianmen city with the company’s party chief, Wang Shutang. Because the confrontation blocked traffic Wei got out of the car and taped the clash with his camera phone.

“According to Wang Shutang, while taping the incident, Wei was surrounded and beaten by a dozen of the chengguan. Wei lifted his arms and the chengguan grabbed his camera phone away. They attacked him for five minutes.

Wang recounted that the chengguan beat Wei from the east side of the road to the center of the road, and then from the center to the west side of the road, until Wei collapsed. Because Wei was not breathing, Wang asked the chengguan to send Wei to the hospital. According to the doctor at Tianmen First People’s Hospital, Wei was already dead when he arrived at the hospital.

“At present, over 100 related personnel, including Qi Zhengjun, Deputy Secretary-General of the city government and chief of the Municipal Law Enforcement Bureau are under investigation. The Public Security Bureau has charged 24 suspects and detained four on criminal charges.”

Xinhua News Agency reported on January 12, [2]

“Currently, (the Public Security Bureau) has detained four suspects on criminal charges including Sun Daibang, chief of Discipline Inspection of the Municipal Law Enforcement Bureau. Qi Zhengjun, Deputy Secretary-General of the city government and chief of The Municipal Law Enforcement Bureau was fired and is under investigation.”

Radio Free Asia reported on January 11 that, [3]

“After Wei was beaten to death, hundreds of villagers and Wei’s relatives took his body to the Municipal Law Enforcement Bureau, and then paraded to the city government office. The body was placed in front of the city government building, and thousands of people surrounded the building. The government, fearing the situation would get out of control, decided to snatch the body. According to Wei’s relatives, more than 100 fire fighters, military police, special police, and plain clothes police rushed to grab the body. Wei’s family confronted them and attempted to protect the body. Finally the police succeeded in seizing the body.”

In an article from Voice of America on January 10, [4]

“Critics said that violent enforcement of the law has been abhorred by the Chinese people, but nothing could be done about it. This type of direct violation of citizens’ personal freedoms and even life has become common practice. These cases are not newsworthy in China.

“When the law enforcement personnel use violence against the public, China’s official media usually play down the story. However, beating Wei Wenhua to death for merely filming the violence of the law enforcement officers triggered enormous anger among the people. This time, official media reacted quite differently in from the past.”

“Qing Geng, a Chinese writer, said that the anger shown by official media is quite funny. It sounds as if this type of violence by law enforcement officers is something foreign, instead of the regular occurrence that it is in China.”

“He added, knowingly violating the law is not a new phenomenon. Why didn’t the official media express anger? Why does it come so late?”
“Observers pointed out that although the official media responded to the death of Wei Wenhua, it has been avoiding a critical issue: the key to the violation of basic human rights of the Chinese people by chengguan or government/party officials is that the power of the party/government is not subject to public constraint and scrutiny.”

[1] Chengdu Daily, January 11, 2008
[2] Xinhua News Agency, January 12, 2008
[3] Radio Free Asia, January 11, 2008
[4] Voice of America, January 10, 2008