27 June 2014

Some excerpts from Kathy Le Mons Walker’s “Gangster capitalism” and peasant protest in China: The last twenty years (2006):

A report published in the People’s Daily in also indicated that more than 5,000 cases of “violent” tax resistance involving injuries and the death of tax collectors had occurred over a two-year period.*

* Bernstein, Thomas P. “In Quest of Voice: China’s Farmers and Prospects for Political Liberalization” paper presented to the University Seminar on Modern China, 10 February 1994, Columbia University, p. 65.

A sampling of direct actions in suggests the scope and range of these collective protests. In one larger-scaled rising, an estimated 15,000 angry peasants in Renshou County in western Sichuan rose in response to the increasingly arbitrary and high fees imposed by local cadres. During this rising, which lasted for six months, they blockaded traffic, held police officers hostage, set police cars ablaze, attacked officials, rampaged through government offices and marched en masse through town streets, nearby mountains and fields and on local highways carrying pitchforks, rods, and banners.1

In the southern province of Guangdong, several thousand peasants blocked a major highway with trucks to protest the expropriation of their fields for a highway improvement project. In Shanxi Province, they confronted local authorities over high taxes. Furious over a sudden cash shortage in the banking system that made it impossible to cash postal money orders sent home by relatives working in the cities, peasants also attacked post offices in at least 11 provinces. Others closed the Henan Railway Line with bulldozers and huge piles of dirt in a tax protest. In Anhui they drove tractors into the city of Hefei and paralyzed traffic outside the offices of the provincial government for hours in a yet another tax protest.2

  1. Bernstein, op. cit., pp. 70–77; Goodspeed, Peter “China’s Peasants Get Restless: Rural Protests Send Shock Waves Through Beijing’s Urbanized Elite” The Toronto Star, (Toronto), 11 July 1993, p. F2; Sampson, Catherine and Mirsky, Jonathan “Police Use Tear Gas to Quell Unrest in Sichuan” The Times (London), 14 June 1993
  2. Goodspeed, op. cit.

The rising was also stirred by poor harvests in the area and building resentment among local residents at the hard line tactics officials used to collect taxes, including demolishing the homes of those who refused to pay taxes and fees that were above the official government rate. Protestors ransacked the Yuandu government building and later beat officials and smashed up their homes before being quelled by 2,000 riot police. One peasant was killed and over 100 were injured.*

* “Chinese Police Maintain Strong Presence in Wake of Riots by Farmers” Hong Kong AFP, FBIS (English AFS Document No. CPP200008300000108), 30 August 2000; see also Smith, Craig S. “Chinese Farmers Rebel Against Bureaucracy” The New York Times, 17 September 2000