My last two posts dealt with political reform and the limits of press freedom respectively. A couple of articles this week, both from the Wall Street Journal’s China blog, add some perspective.
First, a post from Professor Russell Leigh Moses explaining hard-line push back in the press against Wen Jiabao’s recent comments in support of political reform:
A barrage of blasts at allies of political reform quickly followed, with the most shattering being a signed commentary (in Chinese) berating those who saw something compelling about Western democracy. The next day, a front-page essay (Chinese) in People’s Daily intoned that economic development was far from done, implying that political restructuring was best postponed until that goal was nearly met.
Moses suggests that such a strong and public rebuttal is a sign of significant divisions in party leadership over the issue, but that for the time being the status quo has one out and Wen might be backing away.
Then there is a report about a project to document, from within China, instances of violence during forced relocations. These relocations, the result of public domain grants to real estate developers or infrastructure projects, have become controversial not least because of home owner resistance and attendant police action but also because of a perception that the decision making process leading to them is less than savory.
Now, A Chinese blogger has created a google map to documents events like mass protests, the death of home owners, and self-immolations associated with relocation projects. The map is a vivid picture of the extent of the problem. It’s also participatory; other internet users are adding their information.
I’m to the story not only because of it’s implicit challenge to the government, but because the incident of self-immolation that I wrote about last week as a means of discussing the commercial press’ tactic of jumping on breaking news is included on the map.