A widening income gap that threatens to tear China apart is likely to be a top agenda item when its parliament kicks off its annual full meeting next weekend.
The 3,000 delegates to the National People's Congress (NPC) will arrive this week on trains and planes from across the nation, just as tensions between the haves and the have-nots seem to be reaching a critical level.
"There is genuine concern. China's leaders certainly accord priority to the maintenance of political and social stability," said Joseph Cheng (
Signs are multiplying that Chinese society is unraveling at the seams, especially in rural areas where 715 million people are groaning under the twin weights of abusive officialdom and economic growth a fraction of that in the cities.
Forty million farmers have lost their land as ever larger areas are being appropriated for industrial and residential uses, and many are enraged over what they see as inadequate compensation.
"A lot of the older peasants, how can they find other employment? They have lost their land, they have no money, they have no social security, they cannot find jobs. There are bound to be serious, serious social problems," Cheng said.
"So the issue of proper compensation for the peasants whose land has been appropriated by the authorities, as well as the issue of employment for them, including job training, becomes a very, very important issue," he said.
The Chinese government has promised to help the farmers, and Premier Wen Jiabao's (溫家寶) work report, to be delivered on the first day of the NPC gathering on March 5, could provide clues about what exactly it plans to do.
A more precise indication of how much it is willing to spend on solving the problem could emerge from the detailed government budget to be unveiled by Finance Minister Jin Renqing (
Rural issues could also be a focus for the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, a toothless advisory body that begins meeting on Friday.
The 11th five-year plan that kicks off this year will be on the NPC's agenda, and the heated discussions will serve to show the blueprint is more than just a relic.
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
INTERNET CURBS: People are rushing to erase their digital footprints after police given powers over online activity, although it might take years for the full effect to be felt At midnight on Tuesday, the Great Firewall of China, the vast apparatus that limits the country’s Internet, appeared to descend on Hong Kong. Unveiling expanded police powers as part of contentious new national security legislation, the Hong Kong government enabled police to censor online speech, and force Internet service providers to hand over user information and shut down platforms. Many residents, already anxious since the legislation took effect last week, rushed to erase their digital footprint of any signs of dissent or support for the past year of protests. Hong Kong Legislator Charles Mok (莫乃光), a pro-democracy member of the Legislative
‘SUICIDE’: Media reports said Park Won-soon went missing on Thursday after a staff member filed a sexual harassment claim against him this week Seoul mayor Park Won-soon, viewed as a potential candidate for the 2022 presidential election, was found dead of an apparent suicide hours after he was reported missing, police said, adding that he was the subject of an undisclosed investigation. In a note he is thought to have left behind on his desk, Park offered his apologies. “I thank everyone who was with me in my life. I apologize to my family for only making them suffer from pain,” according to the note that was released by his office yesterday. Park, in his letter, asked to be cremated and have his remains spread
RISKY BUSINESS: The Chinese firm has stockpiled 500,000 pieces of 5G equipment not covered by US sanctions, but fears a wider ban could be announced in the UK Huawei Technologies Co believes it can supply 5G hardware unaffected by US sanctions to the UK for the next five years, sidestepping the expected conclusion of British emergency review on Tuesday. The company has stockpiled 500,000 pieces of kit, but fears a wider ban on its equipment is to be unveiled to placate rebel British Conservative Party lawmakers, who say that the Chinese supplier represents a national security risk. The British government on Friday said that it was “very likely” that British Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden would make a statement to parliament on Tuesday