Saturday, September 9, 2006
While the Chinese government constantly invokes the need for stability and harmony, more and more it appears that real stability and a modicum of harmony cannot be achieved without significant political reforms. This is shown by the extraordinary demonstrations that periodically burst out, provoked by single incidents of suspected official wrongdoing that in other countries might elicit angry editorials or letters to the editor but would scarcely bring tens of thousands onto the streets. The public simply has very little confidence in the competence and integrity of government officials.
The latest example is the case of Dai Haijing (戴海静), a teacher in Ruian, Wenzhou, who died after falling from a building. The police ruled her death a suicide caused by depression; her students, her family, and many townspeople suspect a cover-up in order to protect her wealthy husband. Needless to say, I have no idea of the merits of the controversy; for all I know, popular anger could as easily lead to the punishment of the innocent as to the unmasking of the guilty. But there is probably no leader in Wenzhou with the public standing to say, "Trust me on this," because there is no leader that ever had to be accountable to the public.
The full story, with photos of the demonstrations (including overturned and vandalized cars) is on the EastSouthWestNorth blog here.