Occupy Wukan

Protesters in the Chinese fishing village of Wukan are now in open revolt against the Chinese government. The government is laying siege to the town.

Something remarkable is going on in China:

For the first time on record, the Chinese Communist party has lost all control, with the population of 20,000 in this southern fishing village now in open revolt.

The last of Wukan’s dozen party officials fled on Monday after thousands of people blocked armed police from retaking the village, standing firm against tear gas and water cannons.

Since then, the police have retreated to a roadblock, some three miles away, in order to prevent food and water from entering, and villagers from leaving. Wukan’s fishing fleet, its main source of income, has also been stopped from leaving harbour.

The original cause of the protest seems to be about the village’s land having been forcibly sold off. That’s not an isolated complaint. During China’s property bubble, which some argue is beginning to burst, there have been frequent complaints along these lines. However, to my knowledge this is the first time that a protest about land has risen to the level of civil order breaking down and the Chinese Communist Party losing control of a village.

According to some reports China has something between 100,000 and 150,000 protests per year over forced relocation, official corruption, environmental degradation, and any number of other reasons. The number of protesters in Wukan is said to be from 10,000 to 20,000. A few Western reporters have managed to sneak in to the village and I’ve also heard some rumors of satellite photography of them.

Year of the protester, indeed.

FILED UNDER: General, , ,
Dave Schuler
About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging. He has contributed to OTB since November 2006 but mostly writes at his own blog, The Glittering Eye, which he started in March 2004.

Comments

  1. Hey Norm says:

    Drum Circles

  2. Liberty60 says:

    Haven’t these people heard that the world is flat?

  3. ponce says:

    Their message seems unfocused.

  4. walt moffett says:

    Unlike our domestic variety, these folks are facing long stays in prison if not execution. Brave people doing a real occupation, motivated by the collusion of private and state interests.

    A bit more on the Wukan situation from China Digital Times. A messy end seems nigh.

  5. Hey Norm says:

    They need to present concrete policy proposals and get involved.

  6. The fact that none of you can see the difference between a protest movement in a totalitarian dictatorship and a protest movement in a representative democracy where people vote for their leaders every two years is really pretty sad. The Chinese have no choice but to engage in protest, Americans have more effective means to have their voices heard. If they choose not to do it, that is their fault.

  7. michael reynolds says:

    There’s a huge difference. They may well end up in prison or shot for protesting the collusion between government and big business.

    Americans doing the same only risk being beaten and gassed. But after the beatings and pepper spraying the Americans will be released on bail. So there’s that.

  8. michael reynolds says:

    On the larger issue, the potential for serious instability in China is very real and very scary. It’s one thing when a small, nasty, but essentially irrelevant dictatorship like that in Syria starts to wobble and go off the rails. China is a major economic, diplomatic and nuclear power. Not to mention being a nation of more than a billion people, with neighbors that include a fair percentage of the world’s most volatile nations and dangerous trouble spots. Serious societal instability could lead to Chinese adventurism in search of national unity. That would not be good.

  9. Michael,

    That comment brings to mind a point Jon Huntsman made Monday about the impending leadership changes in China. The generation rising to power, he noted, has no memory of the Great Leap Forward or the Cultural Revolution. They know only rising prosperity. The concern he expressed is that they won’t have the judgment necessary to know when they’ve gone too far when it comes to domestic politics.

  10. michael reynolds says:

    @Doug Mataconis:
    It gets bad in a hurry if an out-of-touch party leadership with no real connection to the people outside the major cities starts to panic. That’s when some bright bulb in the leadership decides an incident with Taiwan or Vietnam or India would be just the ticket to unite the country.

  11. Dave Schuler says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I don’t share that concern. The next generation of China’s leaders will be technocrats, not revolutionaries. Gorbachevs rather than Brezhnevs.

  12. Dave Schuler says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I would say “no real connection to the people” full stop. I think that China’s leaders are smarter than ours; more truly elite. Their path to power is very different.

  13. Steve Verdon says:

    Nice job there Liberty60, Hey Norm and ponce….people go out and take a stand against a totalitarian regime that has shown absolutely no compunction about using deadly violence against protesters….so lets make jokes.

  14. @Dave Schuler:

    I would think they might be more akin to Lee Kuan Yew than Gorbachev, and I seriously doubt they’ll be very open to political liberalization unless absolutely necessary

  15. john personna says:

    @Steve Verdon:

    In a forum where the Chinese read, the jokes would be pretty poor taste. Of course, in the fish bowl that is OTB, they work.

  16. michael reynolds says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    “Smarter than ours,” being a nice example of damning with faint praise?

  17. ponce says:

    Americans have more effective means to have their voices heard. If they choose not to do it, that is their fault.

    Doug,

    We can’t vote greedy freaks like the Koch Brothers and Jamie Dimon out of office. They are far more untouchable than Communist Chinese officials.

    And we certainly can’t offer bigger bribes to politicians than they can.

    Witness the zombie-like Republicans currently holding tax cuts for tens of millions of middle class American families hostage to the Koch Brothers’ plan to build a pipeline from the festering tar pits of Canada across America to the Confederate refineries that produce half of America’s greenhouse gases.

  18. Steve Verdon says:

    If only it weren’t for those damn sociopathic libertarians and Republicans! Why we’d have unicorns and rainbows!

  19. Neil Hudelson says:
  20. Jay says:

    They’re only protesting out of racism.

  21. ponce says:

    If only it weren’t for those damn sociopathic libertarians and Republicans!

    Libertarians are just autistic Republicans, Steve.

  22. Neil Hudelson says:

    Ok, I’m going to be following this fairly close, and I hope that this protest somehow results in greater democratic freedoms for all Chinese while at the same time keeping their prosperous country stable. It would be a miracle for sure, but a guy can hope…

    …I also want the protestors to win because, well, Wukan Clan ain’t nothing to f*ck with.

  23. walt moffett says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Americans doing the same only risk being beaten and gassed. But after the beatings and pepper spraying the Americans will be released on bail. So there’s that.

    And lets not forget the OWS folks have the help of the National Lawyers Guild to navigate the resolve police brutality complaints process, suits for civil damages, and influence city policy. Plus, if they so chose, stand for election to the posts (Mayor, Council) that set police priorities, regulations, and thru the civil service system, terminate the thugs. The Wukanese have only funeral music and brass ovoids.

  24. Eric Florack says:

    Nice job there Liberty60, Hey Norm and ponce….people go out and take a stand against a totalitarian regime that has shown absolutely no compunction about using deadly violence against protesters….so lets make jokes.

    Quite.
    The joke, far as I can see is the joke being made of the OWS crowd, in the comparison. The OWS morons are diminished in the face of these people’s struggle… a struggle under the exact style of government the OWS morons are demanding

    And Ponce, as the father of an autistic child, I will say this plainly: You are beneath my contempt.

  25. G.A.Phillips says:

    Theses people are protesting the commies the OWS are commies…..

  26. Liberty60 says:

    @Eric Florack:
    My joke was about the Very Serious People here in America who keep urging us to be more like China- aboilish unions, give greater power to landowners and bidnessmen. (No thanks, I’ll pass.)

    FWIW, I have seen more than a few posts by Chinese dissidents who are quite sympathetic with OWS. They recognize common grievances about an unresponsive government, and a 1% that is rapidly engorging itself while the 99% gets left behind. Our particular Occupy group got a shoutout in Tahrir Square by the protestors there- they emailed us a pic showing themselves hlding a banner of our group- very sweet.

    For the record- I wouldn’t compare the level of tyranny there to here. But just because our problems are not as severe, doesn’t mean they are not similar.

  27. Liberty60 says:

    @G.A.Phillips:

    Who do the ChiComs work for?

    Think real hard!

  28. G.A.Phillips says:

    Liberty60, damn holmes…I am loling so hard I almost became a OWS pooptester in my puter chair.!.!.!.!.!

  29. tyndon clusters says:

    As the Pentagon races to replace the evil Muslim empire with that of Chinese aggression toward the West and their growing military might (after all, they just added a 1960s era submarine to their arsenal) we should stop and pause at the insanity of ever increasing defense budgets, for China, like the old USSR will disintegrate into smaller, autonomous regional entities.

    Our foreign policy should consist of air dropping iPads and iPhones to all the peasants so they can record and upload the coming brutality in real time and let the worldwide condemnation mitigate heavy handed Chinese government oppression.

    Oh, Mr. Verdon, your damn right that if we didn’t’ have the daft Republican dumbshitz around we would have rainbows, if not unicorns.

    The basis for this is American history. The Republican Party was completely marginalized in Congress by the Greatest Generation voters. They remembered the stupidity of Hoover’s “bad deal” policies and the inability of the Republican Party to protect the common man from the ravages of capitalism

    From FDR to Clinton’s first inaugural, the House was for 56 out of 60 years run by Democrats and the Senate was run by Democrats 50 out of 60 years. It doesn’t get much more dominant than that.

    So, yeah, when Republican bastards were kept in check, the U.S. went through what is generally considered its Golden Age.

    Thanks to Republican dolts who believe in deregulating financial institutions, increasing wealth inequality, exacerbating racial tensions, destroying the middle class etc. we were damn well much closer to unicorns and rainbows than under the prattle that passes as Republican policies.

  30. Hey Norm says:

    Dave/Doug,
    So shallow mindless facile comments pass as serious commentary unless lives are threatened??? Seriously???

  31. Hey Norm says:

    Well you have Eric F. convinced anyway…so that’s nice.

  32. G.A.Phillips says:

    tyndon clusters lol…….

    The LIBCOM delusion is just amazing tonight……like a crazed naked OWSer pooing himself while screaming about Koch and waving sparklers…hahahahaha…….

  33. G.A.Phillips says:

    tyndon clusters….

    http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2011/12/14/china-is-helping-to-arm-iran-and-sidestep-sanctions-thanks-to-assist-from-north/

    I think they have an aircraft carrier to go along with their sub too…Now…Oooo…

  34. G.A.Phillips says:

    I know I know FUAX NEWS LIES KOCH KOCH KOCH……

  35. Ben Wolf says:

    At what point does G.A. get a ban? This is what, three defecation references in a single thread?

    At the very least I’m first to sign the pledge to ignore all further posts by him. No more feeding the troll.

  36. Ben Wolf says:

    @Dave Schuler: The Party leadership is well aware their hold on power is tenuous and relies on keeping their citizens happy. Unlike our politicians and business leaders the Chinese elite fear their populace. The most likely result of this little rebellion is the central party sweeps in as the white knight to hold local officials accountable for their abuses in Wukan. Doing so has the benefit of making Beijing look like the common man and woman’s ally while letting minor functionaries know there are consequences for letting this sort of thing get out of hand.

  37. Dave Schuler says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    The most likely result of this little rebellion is the central party sweeps in as the white knight to hold local officials accountable for their abuses in Wukan.

    To be honest that’s what I think the people of Wukan are hoping for.

  38. Ben Wolf says:

    @Dave Schuler: I think you’re right, and the average chinese is more politically aware than many in the west would give them credit for.

  39. ponce says:

    I know I know FUAX NEWS LIES KOCH KOCH KOCH……

    China selling arms to Iran is to be expected considering how much oil China gets from Iran.

    Heck, America sells all the weapons it can to Saudi Arabia.

  40. anjin-san says:

    The OWS morons are diminished in the face of these people’s struggle

    Interesting. When the protests in Egypt were in full swing, you called for America to stand shoulder to shoulder with Murbarek. You were quite put out when we abandoned him.

    You think the Chinese protestors are heroes, yet Egyptians should be content with repression and torture. Why is this? Seems to me that both groups want freedom and deserve our support.

  41. WR says:

    @anjin-san: Because they don’t give a damn about the protestors. They hate the Chinese leadership, so those protestors are good. They liked Egypt under Mubarek, so those protestors were bad. They like Republicans, so OWS is stupid. They don’t like Democrats, so Tea Partiers are shining beacons of democracy.

    The little people are like puppets to them. Of course the joke is that they think they’re Big Boys, up there with the real elites, while the multi-millionaires know they’re just useful idiots, selling out their own self interest in hopes of getting a nod or smile and a chance at the big bucks.

    Speaking of which, did Jay Tea and Jan finally go away?

  42. Steve V says:

    @Eric Florack:

    As another parent of an autistic child, I didn’t mind the joke, although I don’t begrudge others’ right to be offended. I would like to take this opportunity, however, to thank the government for IDEA. 🙂

  43. anjin-san says:

    @ bit & Steve V

    Putting politics aside for a moment, are you aware of how iPads are now being used as a communications tool by autism sufferers? I saw a segment on it on 60 minutes that was pretty interesting.

  44. Ben Wolf says:

    @anjin-san: iPads would have been a nice tool when I was teaching autistic students in elementary school.

  45. anjin-san says:
  46. ponce says:

    By a strange coincidence, Roy Edroso writing about the egregious Anchoress today:

    I write a lot here about the spectacular self-pity and eagerness to take offense of modern conservatives, but at this moment in their history I think they’re verging into something new. There’s always been in their discourse a kind of petulance that seemed to me beyond politics, and in a post like this it asserts itself and overtakes politics almost completely. You see revealed the habit of mind that prefigures all their crackpot ideas about justice, governance, and everything else — that of the perpetually aggrieved fusspot, the one who thinks everyone’s trying to put something over on her…

    http://alicublog.blogspot.com/

  47. Rob in CT says:

    The first comparison to Occupy was made by [drumroll…] Dave Schuler, who chose to title this Occupy Wukan.

    So you get comments riffing off the posts & comments from earlier Occupy threads here at OTB. Duh.

    I seriously doubt any of the people posting such jokey comments seriously equate China and the USA in terms of authoritarian repression. There are some common threads, but the context is very different.

    I hope these people avoid being run over by tanks.

  48. G.A.Phillips says:

    At what point does G.A. get a ban? This is what, three defecation references in a single thread?

    lol, you must have missed the Koch references!!! Maybe we can ban people for that? I, am making a pledge not to vote any one down any more and not because it has no effect because 99% of you think alike and I am one of the two or three that does it.But because I want you and your friends to get out your hate and and your censorship and obtain that other tingly feeling of utopic natural satisfaction that you might ever get to enjoy. Besides one of the many ways you crap…

    China selling arms to Iran is to be expected considering how much oil China gets from Iran

    . Tell your pal over there standing next to the unicorn.

  49. G.A.Phillips says:

    Erg, but you are right Ben, I have gone off the deep end for like the billionth time. I ask your forgiveness for my offences, Truly , and every one else’s. I shall go sit in the corner try to evolveum trun into a better person again, and I will ask once more also for civility and understanding with but a whisper……..

  50. Jiu-Ping Lee says:

    @Dave Schuler:
    I am a chinese,and i want to say.It`s going to be very dangerous if china keep moving like this.
    Too long chinese people have been prisoned in the cage like beast,someday if we can not suffer any more of the cage which was build by goverment,they will release they desire to destory everything related to goverment,and china will be filled by the blood…

  51. ken says:

    i’m from china, its pathetic that i have to read English news to obtain the truth of what heck is going on in my own country!

  52. Alyssa Fan says:

    @Jiu-Ping Lee: i ‘m a Chinese ,too.For the situation here now,i don’t think it’s that serious as you said,actually better when you compare it to the time in the 1960’s….it’s just too hard to govrn such a huge country with all kinds of special elements.There is no total freedom in this world.Though i have to say I hate the goveinment most of times.but i can see it’s improving.If the protest happened years ago,Wukan must have been filled with blood.it’s just a habit in Chinese history that fighting against the rulers is sth that won’t work but cause yourself into prison….As you see,things have been better long ,or i won’t even have the chance to commen here…though much still need to be done.China ia a strange country…i love it anyway…what counts most is a country and its nation,not the govrnment…

  53. Alyssa Fan says:

    @ken: well,you just didn’t get the right track…there’re so many in SINA WEBO…i know much from it….