Inherit the Wind
It's interesting to note that the cited cause over the shootings of protesting farmers in Dongzhu, China is over land taken for wind farms. The Intelligence Summit says the compensation may have been pocketed by officials. It quotes Amnesty International's response in part: "There is lack of guidance from the central government about what kind of force is allowed to be used." Inadequate rules of engagement for shooting citizens internally. Way to go Amnesty. Tseming Yang at Citizen Yang says that while the Hong Kong papers have been following the incident there has been little coverage from Mainland Chinese media: "... something that I am especially troubled by ... is that many of the clashes ... have resulted from disputes about environment-related matters ...".
Here's what I've been able to find about the city of Dongzhou village, Shanwei city. This is where the recent shooting of protesters has taken place, according to the Epoch Times, which has very good coverage of the event including photos. Using the Falling Rain website, we can get the coordinates of the Shanwei city, which are: 22° 46' 60N 115° 20' 60E. The place is 81 NM northeast of Hong Kong and about 450 NM from Taiwan and appears, from Google Earth, to be a built up area along a deep water port near Honghai bay.
Consider stories like these from San Francisco, which talk about projects in the Chinese city where protesters were just shot:
"SAN FRANCISCO -- Entrepreneurs from China's Guangdong Province presented more than 150 business projects to potential American investors yesterday at the 2005 Hong Kong-Guangdong Business Conference in the U.S. ... The hotel was packed with 300 Chinese officials, including the Guangdong governor and mayors of all of the cities, and 600 business executives from America. ... Twenty-two officials from Shanwei attended the conference, including the mayor. ...
Huang brought pamphlets, video discs, and a thick business project book to introduce Shanwei city and its business opportunities. In the book were 180 business projects advertising foreign investment. The investment amounts for each project ranged from $ 100,000 to $50 million."
The odds are good that one of those investment proposals is going to require land on which some farmers happen to be raising a crop. Maybe it'll be for a wind farm. Well who knows?
The NYT's Howard French has a detailed accounts of the events in Dongzhou. Key sentences:
"From about 7 p.m. the police started firing tear gas into the crowd, but this failed to scare people ... At about 8 p.m. they started using guns, shooting bullets into the ground, but not really targeting anybody. Finally, at about 10 p.m. they started killing people." ... By the government's own tally, there were 74,000 riots or other significant public disturbances in 2004 alone, a big jump from previous years.
I'm willing to believe that the Chinese authorities are telling the truth when they say 'agitators' are behind the recent disturbances. French's story, with its references to community opposition to new power plants and filling in the bay and displacing fishermen, remind me of Saul Alinsky-style organizing campaigns. Normally, firing tear gas into a crowd will disperse it rapidly unless there are a committed cadre of leaders who will hold fast: hold fast even in the face of live firing.
Of course the word agitators is pejorative only in the eye of the beholder, as a press free with the use of the word 'insurgents' is prone to remind us. There's a high probability there are underground organizers of some sort in Dongzhou, and indeed, throughout industrializing southern China, and the really fascinating question is who they are and what they represent.
I think a Western community organizer, if he were candid, would have to say that whoever these Chinese underground dudes are, they are in the top rank. It's one thing to coordinate a pyro attack on a Starbucks Cafe in Seattle hoping to be carted away by fascist pig American policemen in the strobe effect of a dozen flashbulbs. That's only playing at organizing. It's another thing to sneak around in southern China against security forces that have never heard of the McCain Amendment and to stand fast against live ammo. That's the real thing.