Fri, Sep 13, 2013 - Page 9 News List

Suicide used to resist urbanization and land grabs

Lacking other options to prevent development at the expense of their land, farms and businesses, some Chinese have chosen suicide as a form of resistance. These acts may be beginning to change Beijing’s policy toward land owners

By Ian Johnson  /  NY Times News Service, CHENGDU, China

Political analysts in Beijing also say that economic reforms that could be unveiled in November would increase compensation for expropriated rural land, while other measures could give farmers more rights to determine how their land is used. Currently, all land is owned by the government, and farmers have only usage rights.

“Li Chuncheng’s problem is mainly due to the efforts of the Chengdu people,” Huang said. “There have been more protests against land expropriation in this one city than in many provinces. The cases were terrible, but I think they had an effect.”

Tang Huiqing thinks so, too.

“My sister’s sacrifice brought a change,” she said. “Right now they don’t dare tear down so many homes. There’s more consultation. At least here, they don’t tear down as much. Maybe in this village it’s better.”

The effect on her family, however, was grim. The sisters’ mother joined the CCP shortly after it took power in 1949, elated at its promise to take land from landlords and redistribute it to poor peasants like the Tang family. Her daughter’s death broke her will to live, and she died a few months later.

“She was heartbroken,” Tang Huiqing said. “She couldn’t understand how they could act like this to unarmed, ordinary people.”

Additional reporting by Sim Chi Yin

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