Thursday, January 12, 2012

Protests in China will not bring change

Years of the government's unyielding restraint and manipulation over citizen's lives are unlikely to end.

As China prepares for leadership succession, clashes between the people and the authorities steal the headlines, as if foreshadowing a semblance of Arab Spring taking place. "The Protester" may have won the coveted label of TIME person of the year, but they seem less consequential in China. Despite a dramatic increase in the number of "mass incidents", as it is euphemistically termed in China, none of them will deal a deathblow to unseat the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP). It is still a stretch for electoral democracy to take place.

In the most serious case of social unrest in China this year, about 1,000 villagers from Wukan participated in a mass rally. Their antagonisms focused on two issues: Illegal land sales by officials and the death of one of the villagers on December 11, Xue Jinbo, who was advocating a resolution on the land dispute.

According to interviews, officials have been confiscating public land since the 1990s and selling it without any or little recompense to the peasants. The long-simmering grievances erupted this week as the largest portion of land was sold off while villagers battled with rising inflation. The villagers not only demanded the return of their land, but also in a markedly democratic style, chased the officials out of town and elected their own local representatives. Read More