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  • » 07/31/2012, 00.00

    CHINA

    People's Daily: government should listen to the people



    The party's newspaper calls on the country's leaders, especially at the local level, to be more civic minded and listen to people. After Wukan and Shifang, people in Qidong succeed in forcing the authorities to scrap an oil pipeline on environmental grounds. Yet, the regime cannot change its spots. It continues to arrest, a blogger is the latest casualty, and blames the strange death of Li Wangyang (again) on suicide.

    Beijing (AsiaNews) - The Communist Party's top newspaper called on the authorities to listen to people's concerns about pollution. The paper, which carries the official line, was referring to the latest incident of social unrest in Qidong, a city in the eastern province of Jiangsu, where residents forced local authorities to scrap an oil pipeline plan. At the same time, the authorities have countered the paper's demand with more repression, against demonstrators but also a blogger.

    "The public's awareness of environmental issues and their rights is increasing at a rapid pace," a signed commentary said in the People's Daily.

    The mainland should strive to "establish an open and transparent decision-making mechanism, and build a tolerant environment for public opinion", it explained.

    "Being a responsible government means to make oneself independent of the specific entanglements of economic interests and become the implementer of the public interest, and the balancer of economic interests," it said.

    This is a clear reference to the many cases involving local Communist officials who grab land to sell to investors at hefty prices without compensating affected communities and residents.

    The paper's opinion reflects a recent shift in popular attitudes towards the authorities, more often than not, fuelled by fear of uncontrolled pollution, and a desire for justice.

    Now Beijing appears to be listening. For Scholar Willy Lam, this willingness is only a carrot that does not do away with the stick of repression. After the cases of Wukan and Shifang, where residents achieved their goals, people in Qidong succeeded in having local authorities scrap an oil pipeline project.

    These small steps do not counterbalance the many human rights violations still committed by China's Communist party. One recent case illustrates the situation. A blogger who urged Qidong residents to continue their protest was arrested and fined.

    The same is true in Li Wangyang case. The veteran dissident, who spent 21 years in prison, for his involvement with the pro-democracy movement in Tiananmen Square, died a few months ago in police custody. After hastily cremating the body, the authorities ruled his death as suicide.

    Following a wave of protest in Hong Kong and the mainland, the authorities changed the cause of death, claiming it was an accident.

    Now, in further twist to the story, Hunan party chief told Hong Kong journalists that ""Li committed suicide," a fact that "is crystal clear with verified evidence."

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    See also

    21/09/2011 CHINA
    Zhejiang, protests against pollution: 30 arrested, 100 sent for re-education
    The Chinese government continues to struggle with social unrest caused by pollution and land exploitation. Villagers take to the streets against an industry listed in New York sparking repression.

    10/05/2006 CHINA
    Human rights in China threatened by local governments' violence

    Exploitative working conditions and human rights abuses are feeding social unrest in China. Local authorities are resorting to gangs of thugs to beat up protesters. This phenomenon runs counter to statements coming from Beijing about the need for harmonious development; it is worrisome because it is opening the door to total illegality when it comes to human rights.



    03/03/2009 CHINA
    Jia Qinling: Maintaining order and social stability in Tibet
    The Political Consultative Conference is underway, and the National People's Congress meets in two days. The Chinese leader calls for maintaining the "harmonious society," urging that workers not be fired and their pay not be withheld in the face of a deepening economic crisis. Repression of the Tibetans has been approved. Beijing is under tighter police control than it was during the Olympics.

    26/01/2010 CHINA
    Beijing’s relentless repression of internet users, activists and petitioners
    The central government pursues its crusade against corruption, but local leaders continue forced expropriations and abuses against residents. Information media are increasingly censored. Social stability remains Beijing’s main concern.

    01/10/2011 CHINA
    1 October, Premier Wen calls for 'more democracy' for China
    On the occasion of celebrations marking the 62nd anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, Prime Minister promises more rights for the people and a democracy "with Chinese characteristics." But the government continues to repress human rights and prevent popular participation.



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