Saturday, May 12, 2007

Land Grab

The number of incidents of mass protest in China in the last few years is often quoted as being in the hundreds of thousands. (So much for the image of the docile and subservient Confucian horde.) One of the main reasons for protests is land seizures, in which local government simply announces villagers have to move, as the new knitting factory goes up. Locals are often compensated, but remuneration often falls short of the true value of the property.

Here in Guangdong province the problem seems to be acute. The economy is booming, and development is everywhere. Driving from the university into downtown yesterday evening revealed an enormous factory complex being built on what I last remember as fishponds and stilt houses.

What must be China's most hard-working blog, EastSouthWestNorth, picks up on a recent story originally reported by Ming Pao newspaper in Hong Kong about a protest in the city of Gurao, near Shantou. (Read the story here.)

Scrolling down to the bottom of the page reveals some striking images of scenes more reminiscent of French inner cities than of suburban Guangdong.

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