Jan 2, 2006
In early December, police shot and killed villagers in a small Chinese town. The government announced three deaths; villagers told the media that 20 people are dead or missing.
What was the crime for which these villagers were executed? A thousand people had turned out to protest what was being done to their village of Dongzhou. It was the site of a new power plant, brought in without the consent of the villagers. It would bring heavy pollution to the area, like all the coal-burning power plants being built in China. In addition, the government planned to fill in their local waters for a landfill, ruining the livelihood of local fishermen. In return, the villagers were offered about three dollars in compensation, more or less the equivalent of a day’s pay in China.
Word of the killings and intimidation of villagers leaked out despite government efforts and threats to prevent any news. Villagers told reporters that some had been promised thousands of dollars if they kept quiet about how a family member had died. If they spoke out, they would get nothing.
China is a poor country, with a majority of rural peasants, despite millions crowding into the larger cities to work in the factories. The country desperately lacks power for its industrial and residential needs, leading to a push for more coal and numerous accidents in coal mines. At least 6,000 miners were killed in the past year in mining accidents.
The population in China faces low wages, sometimes starvation, dangerous working conditions, severe pollution and government repression. These villagers in Dongzhou were not the only ones who have had to face their local police or military when they tried to protest a government decision.
These are the benefits of capitalism running riot in China.