Saturday, March 24, 2007

 

Fight by Yang and Wu Sign of a Human Rights Thaw in China?

If you look carefully at the picture you'll see a house perched on top of a residual piece of land left in the middle of a developer's vast cavern. The house belongs to Yang Wu and his wife Wu Ping of Chongquing, China and you can read about their fight to retain their home in the face of a developer juggernauthere. So what? you ask. Well, I think something we're familiar with over here is significant when it happens over there.

Reading the history of Communist China one is struck by the brutal authoritarianism of Mao and his political descendants. Around the time of Deng Xiaoping in the late 1970s this harshness began to modify as a gradual reintroduction of private ownership and an embryonic market economy was introduced by this geriatric (relative) liberal. This continued for a decade and laid the foundations of China's current formidable economic might. I had always assumed that introducing free enterprise into an economic dictatorship would decentralize power and strengthen human rights. Not so.

When the dictatorships collapsed in Eastern Europe and the USSR I thought the framework of the Chinese state would not be long in crashing down as well. But it didn't. And in 1989 the old guard showed how strong they were by instigating the Tiananmen Square massacare. Since then we've seen the economy grow apace but the government still censors Google and bloggers and anyone who wants to act like a genuine democrat.

One can read of many local uprisings in China against corruption and unpopular government decisions but nothing to suggest the iron hand is being finally slackened. Yet we see that a couple can apparently stand up against government development plans without being harrassed, imprisoned or even murdered. Any or all of those things would have surely happened even ten years ago, so I really do think that the fight being waged by Yang and Wu is something to applaud and view as a hopeful sign that in terms of human rights, China may finally be coming in from the cold.

Comments:
You seem to miss the point with your article presuming that this is a conflict between government and citizen. In any other country you would (I'm sure) have seen it as a fight between an individual owner and property developer. Why should it be any different in this case? What does it have to do with the Tiananmen Square massacre?
 
Obviously because the state is the primary driving force behind these property developers; because recent Chinese history stipulates government as the final recourse in matters of dispute.
 
I don't know all the particulars, but it seems a similar situation is going on in NYC. Columbia University is taking away the businesses of many people. The City government is involved because they are condemming the property under emminent domain claiming Columbia will "improve" the area. They are simply taking the property of others for their own interests.
 
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