China: When Development Leads to Social Crisis

by Ève Lacroix on November 14, 2013 - 11:19pm

In the New York Times article written by Ian Johnson, the urbanization process in China is described as being extremely problematic. In fact, this increasing movement creates greater division than ever between rural landowners and the State authorities. Thus, the Chinese government strongly pushes these farmers to leave their lands and move to the urban centers. In that way, the development of these agricultural areas becomes conceivable. However, some of these farmers stand up and refuse to submit. Thus, the term "nail farms" explains the phenomena of landowners determined to stay in the countryside, as their vicinity is in complete destruction. There are many motives that influence these farmers’ decision, notably the emotional attachment to the land as well as religious beliefs. In Chinese tradition, the local deities occupy the land and inhabit the temples. Consequently, territory has a significant importance in this Oriental culture. Thus, Bo Hongfu is one of these courageous Chinese landowners who resist the governmental pressure. In 2009, he was incarcerated due to his rebellious behaviour. Actually, he occupies his ancestral lands, requiring the authorities to reconstruct the ruined temple. Consequently, urbanization creates great tension within China.

In my opinion, this social issue emphasizes the duality between tradition and modernity. I also believe that the Chinese government does not consider the rights of these humble landowners, as urbanization is focused upon economic development only. I find it horrific how the government denies its own cultural legacy, betraying its people by taking away their properties. Consequently, I support the farmers who are brave enough to oppose the authorities and promote their values. I greatly respect them. In that way, is that uprising sufficient in order to change the actual situation? Unfortunately, this social movement is probably not the optimal solution, even though rural landowners represent the majority of Chinese population. However, their resistance might be an eye-opener for the State to modify the urbanization process. In order to finally solve this major social problem, the State should make an agreement with its rural population, which would benefit both sides. The authorities have to respect and consider the rights of the people. Thus, it is quite ironic that the development of a country should bring positive consequences, but instead leads to a serious social crisis.


I agree with your point of view on this. As you have said the Chinese Government should consider the rights of its people. By displacing the rural farmers they are violating The Universal Deceleration of Human Rights, Article 17 which states that: (1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others. (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property." Therefor by removing their property, China is breaking internationally recognized law. I also agree that the solution that an uprising would not be sufficient and would most likely be crushed. I would also doubt that western government would try to sanction China since it has become one of the most important trading partner of western government and many would not risk anything against this giant. I believe that you have surmised the article in a good way and brought out the important points.

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