Razing and burning: the costs of rapid urbanization in China
October 28, 2013 9:11 AM   Subscribe

With 53 self-immolations since 2009, these Chinese villagers might bring to mind the self-immolation by Tibetans, but the Chinese villagers are highlighting a different issue. The rapid urbanization of China is having a number of impacts across the country, with rural communities being demolished to build new urban centers. While many people are moving from rural farms to cities to find more lucrative jobs, some are fighting back to keep their rural communities intact, or to retain their family farms. When other options are gone, desperate villagers turn to self-immolation (NPR).

Besides the self-immolations, farmers have killed themselves by other means to protest land expropriation (NYT), as reported by one Chinese nongovernmental organization, the Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch (Google auto-translation of the site). This comes as violent evictions rise (Amnesty International), in part due to local governments efforts to sell land in order to pay back the huge sums borrowed from state banks to finance stimulus projects.

These pressures don't come at local levels, but are at the national level, as Chinese officials have been talking about moving 250 million people from farm to city in the next dozen years. Beijing’s aim is to have 70% of the Chinese people—about 900 million—living in cities by 2025 (Forbes).

Previously: Rumble in Bazhou City
posted by filthy light thief (4 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I wish i could remember the documentary i watched that talked about citizen journalists in China who were trying to talk about this issue. One guy even went so far as to write in the persona of his cat to try and keep it going.

On a related note, the photos of the pollution and other effects of such rapid expansion without any real regulation is terrifying.
posted by usagizero at 10:07 AM on October 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

This must be the devil's way of torturing that rat bastard Mao. During the Cultural Revolution city dwellers were forced to work on collective farms to learn good socialist values of hard work and subservience to the state. "Up to the mountains and down to the countryside" has been totally subverted and now it is those farmers who are being sent to the cities. As with the USSR, the communists are again defeated without a shot being fired and it makes one wonder what all that Cold War fuss was about.
posted by three blind mice at 10:49 AM on October 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

Uh, I guess that might not have been a self-immolation?
Note to self: let breaking news stories develop before posting them to MeFi.

posted by yeoz at 1:30 PM on October 28, 2013


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