guest post by Mike LaRoche
From the People’s Republic of China comes news of an uprising against the Communist Party in the southern fishing village of Wukan. Twenty-two years after the massacre at Tiananmen Square, might there be hope of a new birth of freedom? At the Daily Telegraph, Malcolm Moore writes:
For the first time on record, the Chinese Communist party has lost all control, with the population of 20,000 in this southern fishing village now in open revolt.
The last of Wukan’s dozen party officials fled on Monday after thousands of people blocked armed police from retaking the village, standing firm against tear gas and water cannons.
Since then, the police have retreated to a roadblock, some three miles away, in order to prevent food and water from entering, and villagers from leaving. Wukan’s fishing fleet, its main source of income, has also been stopped from leaving harbour.
The plan appears to be to lay siege to Wukan and choke a rebellion which began three months ago when an angry mob, incensed at having the village’s land sold off, rampaged through the streets and overturned cars.
Although China suffers an estimated 180,000 “mass incidents” a year, it is unheard of for the Party to sound a retreat.
Could this uprising spread across the country? Remember that as late as August 1991, there were many who assumed the Soviet Union would remain a permanent fixture on the geopolitical scene for decades to come.
(h/t Robert Stacy McCain)
Here’s another take on the Wukan situation coming from a trusted source and good friend of mine (who wishes to remain anonymous) who spent several years living in the People’s Republic of China:
I don’t think its really an anti-communist uprising, though. They are appealing to Beijing for help, and expecting it to come. The revolt is against local party cadres, and so all Beijing has to do is declare itself on the side of the people against corrupt local officials – something it does a dozen times a year – and try to end it peacefully. The other options are to wait it out or crack down violently, and the last one will get out internationally and really should be a last resort. One hopes. But there are tens of thousands of protests in China each year – this one is more extreme than most, but it’s worth noting that most of those protests are not actually calling for the overthrow of the central government, but justice on the local or, sometimes, provincial level. Reform, not revolution. Not even the Tiananmen Square protesters in 1989 were calling for an end to communism.
An interesting, temperate, and learned perspective in my opinion. Like I said, this comes from a personal friend of mine: someone who is a staunch, anti-communist conservative Republican just like me. One must take into account the larger sociopolitical context in which the Wukan incident is unfolding.