I really enjoyed the article below.  There is definitely another side to the “Chinese Miracle” as the income gap between the eastern seaboard cities and the rural countryside increase.  Most Chinese live still do not live in cities, as much as 60% (according to the Chinese government, and I am guessing that is optimistic) live in rural areas.   To give CCP its credit, it has lifted more people out of poverty than ever before in human history, however the growing gap between the cities and the rural areas, lack of legal worker mobility, lack of representation, and corruption are causing ethnic unrest.  The CCP is very sensitive to this because they know their own history.  The communist revolution was started in the city but won in the countryside.  Most Chinese revolutions went this way as well.  They also know that China has never had a revolution in good economic times, so they are desperately trying to suppress these uprisings and news of them as long as possible to keep discontent from spreading and becoming organized.  In the meantime they are desperately trying to stop corruption (at least at the local level), build up infrastructure, and attract industry.   

I wonder if  China can do this fast enough to counter discontent with CCP rule.  I  also how this plays in with the gender gap.  You have all these young men in China who are poor in rural areas and have no chance of getting married, because they just are not competitive economically for the few females there are.  Typically societies with such gender gaps are prone to all types of social ills, this fact can not be helping the CCP’s situation. 

China’s Social Unrest:  The Story Behind the Stories

Albert Keidel

Senior Associate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Large-scale public disturbances have been on the rise in China for more than a decade. Media reports describe violence, injuries, and even deaths on both sides, linked to brick-throwing, tear gas, Molotov cocktails, rockets, bullets, beatings, burned vehicles, stabbings, and standoffs between hundreds of police and thousands of protestors. Claims by demonstrators and police are often at odds, but all agree that events can turn deadly and that serious injury and loss of property are common. Issues include labor grievances, taxation, land confiscation, and pollution. Corruption worsens common injustices and further inflames citizen anger. Industrial China no longer pretends to be a workers’ paradise. In southern China in 2005, 100 shoe factory workers smashed vehicles, threw rocks, and injured three police over unpaid wages. Thousands of workers at an electrical factory struck for four days over working conditions and the right to unionize.  In western China, 2,000 laid-off workers barricaded a street and demanded severance pay.  In 2004, more than a thousand workers in two south China factories struck for higher pay and one rest day per week. Elsewhere, workers took their bosses hostage over unpaid back wages.  

Two years earlier, in 2002, 80,000 retired workers in northeast China protested unpaid pensions. Until recently, taxes, fees, and tolls caused widespread unrest. In 2004, 30,000 people confronted hundreds of police and paramilitary units in a riot over bridge tolls.  In 1999,10,000 peasants in central China demonstrated against taxes and fees. Police attacked with tear gas and batons. In one compilation for five provinces in 1997, half a million peasants took part in violent demonstrations in over 300 townships, with 250 injuries and fourteen deaths, including five police. Poorly compensated farmland seizures now trigger most rural unrest. In January 2006, 20,000 farmers fought police over land condemned for a highway and an industrial zone. In December 2005, police fired on crowds opposing a new power plant, killing either three or twenty farmers, depending on one’s source. In 2005, several thousand southern farmers, trying to stop earth-moving machinery, fought 600 police armed with clubs. In northern China, developers and officials hired thugs with pikes and knives to attack protesting villagers, killing six and injuring fifty. In 2004 in western China, only martial law stopped 90,000 protesters from fighting police over the loss of their homes to a hydroelectric dam.

Table 1: Incidents of “Mass Disturbances” in

Year, Number, % change over previous year

1993 8,700 —

1994 10,000 15

1995 11,000 10

1996 12,000 9

1997 15,000 25

1998 25,000 67

1999 32,000 28

2000 40,000 25

2001 n/a 12

2002 50,400 12

2003 58,000 15

2004 74,000 28

2005 83,600 13 

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