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Olympics: Investigation into Land Confiscation Surrounding 2008 Olympic Games Main Event Hall

From November 2007 to January 2008, the Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch (CRLW) conducted an investigation on farmers who lost their land due to construction of the 2008 Beijing Olympics Games main event hall. This process enables us to have a better understanding of the protection of their legal rights during the relocation. The investigated area covers the Beijing Olympic Village community office (the former Beijing Chaoyang District Wali village) and Beijing Datun community office (the former Beijing Chaoyang District Datun village). Below is the detailed report. [1]

Explanation of “Report of Investigations on Land Losers at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games Main Event Hall”

The main reason to conduct this investigation is to bring to the world’s attention more and more farmers who lost their land during the process of economic development. We hope to use the 2008 Olympic Games as an opportunity to raise attention to this particular group of farmers.

Through this investigation, we are glad to see that the government did grant these villagers certain things. Their lifestyle appeared to have positive changes. On the other hand, regrettably, we found that the farmers faced many aspects of infringement upon their basic rights during the land confiscation and relocation process.
 
After taking over the lands in these two villages, the local government compensated each farmer family with 100,000 Yuan ($13,974.7) for each house. In Wali village, when a house was pulled down, the local government gave money compensation; in Datun when a house was pulled down, the government relocated the villagers to a specially constructed home. At the same time, the villagers were given social securities, the elderly were given pensions, and the majority of these villagers were given a job. The villagers’ lifestyle had a positive change, given the status of a city citizen they felt a glimpse of the convenience of city life.

Regarding land confiscation compensation, these farmers are not happy with the way of distributing collective properties. They think it is illegitimate. Also, the villagers think the compensation does not cover the land they lost, with soaring land and housing prices. In the process, violence was used in enforcing the reallocation. On some occasions, the local officials forced the farmers to reallocate without permit. In Datun village, farmers complained about the small size of the new housing, no property ownership certificate, and poor quality of the distributed housing. In Wali village, farmers had to purchase commodity housing with meager monetary compensation.

In the investigation process, we also discovered that there had been multiple episodes of unrest among the villagers to fight for their land rights. More than 200 people once made a petition with higher authorities; there was a one-month period of sitting petition; some filed lawsuits against local authorities; some residents of the Olympic Village tied themselves to a tree to refuse the Olympic organizers from clearing the land and removing the trees.
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Alongside this, we also understand some villagers were persecuted for fighting for their basic rights. For example, in 2006 Ma Jingxue from Wali village was sentenced to a year in labor camp, in 2007 was again sentenced to two years in labor camp both under the charge of “hooligan activities.” Lu Qingcheng from Datun village was forcefully detained.

During this investigation, we received vigorous support and participation from the villagers of Wali village and Datun village. They provided us with massive materials and information. We would like to express our appreciation for their contribution.

We hope this investigation will bring these Chinese farmers who lost their lands to the world’s attention. We hope our government will listen to the voices of the people and improve the protection of basic rights of these farmers.
 
Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch (CRLW)

Endnotes:
[1] Website of CRLW, February 4, 2008
http://www.msguancha.com/Article/ShowArticle.asp?ArticleID=1027

Foreign Journalist Detained. China’s Pledge For Free Reporting Questioned.

In the afternoon of February 27, Mark Maginier, the Beijing bureau chief with the Los Angeles Times, and his translator were taken away by the personnel from the public security bureau. At the time, Mark was speaking with the petitioners living in the Shou Bao village of Da Xing district of Beijing, a newly established petitioners’ village. Mark told Radio Free Asia that he was taken away for over an hour and was questioned who he was speaking with and what kind of report he will write about.

Mark’s arrest raised concerns over Beijing’s promise. On December 1, 2006, China promised that the foreign reporters, whether assigned permanently or visiting for the Olympics, will be allowed to travel most of the country freely and report without interference by local police or propaganda officials from Jan. 1, 2007, until Oct. 17, 2008.

Source: Radio Free Asia, February 27, 2008
http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/shenrubaodao/2008/02/27/press/

First Sandstorm in 2008 Hit Beijing

Beijing Meteorological Bureau reported that sandstorm appeared in south of Ganshu and west of Mongolia on February 29 and traveled south to Beijing with the cold air on March 1. The nearby regions of Beijing including west of Mongolia, Shanxi, and north of Hebei were reportedly remain under the sandstorm condition as of the first day of March. Estimated population affected will reach 110 million. Beijing recorded 15 sandstorms in the spring of 2007. More sand storms are expected in 2008.

Source: China News, March 2 and 4, 2008 http://www.chinanews.com.cn/tp/shfq/news/2008/03-02/1179107.shtml http://www.chinanews.com.cn/gn/news/2008/03-04/1180550.shtml

Chinese State-run Media Eulogizes Hu Yaobang

Former Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General Secretary Hu Yaobang died nearly 20 years ago. [1] On February 19, 2008, China’s official media Xinhua took a surprising turn in publishing an article that highly praised Hu Yaobang’s charisma and his character as public servant, citing Hu Yaobang’s willingness to offer his high position to others in his early days.  After the article was pasted into a forum on the mainland website, many people followed up and pasted their comments. Since this article was published before the upcoming first plenary session of the 11th National People’s Congress (NPC) and the 1st Session of the 11th Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) to be held in March 2008, it triggered speculation. Following to the June 4th, 1989 Tiananmen Square incident, Hu Yaobang’s name has rarely been mentioned in Chinese official media. Now, before the upcoming NPC and CPPCC sessions, this move by the CCP state-controlled media to publish such an article has inevitably triggered people to speculate upon possible upcoming CCP personnel changes. This is the only sense that has been made of why Xinhua would suddenly initiate a public move to eulogize Hu Yaobang, especially on the issue of offering his seat to others. [2] Below is a translation of the Chinese official media’s article on Hu Yaobang:

The quality of a public servant Hu Yaobang: being unconcerned about the rank, but whether the virtue is good enough for the rank

Hu Yaobang died 19 years ago, but his voice and expression, his great achievements, his character of a public servant, are still deeply etched in people’s memory. In people’s memory, his noble character, sterling integrity, and his charisma, are still widely praised by people.

Offering his position to others

Hu Yaobang once said: "I took part in the revolution in my teens. I never wanted to be any official." He talked the talk and walked the walk. One document stored in the File Room of the Central Committee of the Youth League may serve as evidence. It is a letter written by Hu Yaobang during the 8th National People’s Congress (NPC), as follows:

Comrade Chen Yun, and Xiaoping, (please forward to the Chairman and Comrades in the Secretariat of the Central Committee),

This morning, when I attended the meeting, and saw my name placed in the predetermined name list of the formal members of the Central Committee, a huge pain came from the bottom of my heart. Several times I wanted to stand up to raise this issue, but always felt embarrassed. When it was about to the end of the meeting, I gathered enough courage to stand up, but people said, "Do not talk about personal problems," so I had to sit down.
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I never expected that I would be nominated as a member of the Central Committee. I did not underestimate myself; I have weighed myself. I have calculated like this–if our Party is consisted of a core of more than 2,000 elected leaders, I can probably be put in. Later, it was decided to elect about one hundred leaders (I fully support this), yet if it has my name in, I would feel very disturbed. Then I took another look; it would not be good if no one in charge of youth affairs is selected. So I tried my best to suppress my feeling, I didn’t mention it nor did I discuss with other comrades. Because I was promoted too fast, yet I didn’t do well, I owe the Party my debt. I could try hard to compensate for it. From this point, I felt I should understand it from the overall situation.

Now my name was again listed there as one of the 97 formal Central Committee members. I could not understand it. This way I dare not face the majority members in the alternative member list, who during the past few years or longer time, have contributed to the Party several times more than I have. This is a huge pressure on me. No matter what, Chairman and Comrades of the Central Committee, please put my name in the alternative member list.

I was a little excited and my writing has failed to convey my thoughts.  Please pardon me.

Salutations.

Hu Yaobang
September 22, 1956

The CCP Central Committee paid a lot attention to Hu Yaobang’s letter, and asked Liu Lantao to talk to Hu Yaobang. Liu said to him, “The Central Committee leaders thought someone in charge of the Youth League should be a member of the Central Committee. Hu Yaobang’s experience met this requirement. Now that this is decided, he should not bring it up any more.”

On September 27, 1956, when the 8th National People’s Congress elected the Central Committee members, Hu Yaobang was elected. After the conference, Hu Yaobang, Wang Hetao and Zhang Liqun rode in one car and returned to his home. As they sat in the living room Hu Yaobang’s assistant and secretary congratulated him.  Hu looked serious and said, “There is nothing to congratulate about! It is not appropriate! There are so many provincial Party committee secretaries, ministers of the Central Committee, generals in the Army–they have more credits and experience than me, yet they are the alternative members of the Central Committee. I wrote a letter to Chairman Mao, pleading him not to arrange for me to be a member of the Central Committee. If I am needed for the work, I can be one of the alternative members. But my suggestion was not taken. I could not feel at ease.”
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Endnotes:
[1] From June 1981 to January 1987, Hu Yaobang filled the position of General Secretary of the CCP Central Committee. From June 1981 to September 1982, he was Chairman and General Secretary of the Communist Party of China. Hu Yaobang was considered a reformist in China; he was once Deng Xiaoping and Zhao Ziyang’s close political partner, and was expected to be the first successor selected by Deng Xiaoping. Once, after the 13th NPC, Deng Xiaoping considered letting Hu Yaobang take the offices of President of State and Chairman of the Central Military Commission. The “Discussion of the Truth Standard” and “Promoting Cleaning up all Confusions and Rectifying Reversals of Right and Wrong¨ are considered to be Hu Yaobang’s two major achievements. According to CCP documents from 1987, the top CCP veterans believed that Hu Yaobang was responsible for the intellectuals’ “bourgeois liberalization tendency,” and requested for Hu to resign. Deng Xiaoping criticized Hu Yaobang and said Hu should be held responsible for the protests launched by the student movement in 1986. In 1987 Hu Yaobang was forced to resign.
[2] Xinhua, February 19, 2008
http://news.xinhuanet.com/politics/2008-02/19/content_7628094.htm

China’s Military in 2007

Based on published Chinese language media reports and website articles, this article attempts to give an overview of the Chinese military in 2007 from three perspectives: the Sino-US military relationship, geo-strategic development, and enhanced weapons systems. In summary, 2007 saw a cooperative yet prickly military relationship between the US and China. At the same time, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army has conducted joint military exercises with countries in Asia and Europe. Advanced military weapons systems and technologies expand the PLA’s ability to attack around the globe, in outer space, and in cyberspace.
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Parents Want to Learn How to Offer Good Moral Guidance

A survey published by the All-China Women’s Federation reported that 49 percent of the 6,500 parents in the survey were keen to know how to offer good moral guidance to their children. Sixty percent said they wanted to learn how to help their children with psychological health issues. The study polled more than 5,000 school students aged 6 to 17, and about 6,500 parents from 28 cities and counties in 10 provinces and regions.

Most of the children surveyed said they would like to ask their parents questions about sex, but a majority of moms and dads said they were too embarrassed to answer.

Source: China Daily, February 28, 2008
http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/language_tips/cdaudio/2008-02/28/content_6493070.htm

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