October 10, 2005


Mob attacks key Chinese democrat: Activist left for dead near village at centre of fresh wave of unrest (Jonathan Watts, October 10, 2005, The Guardian)

One of China's leading democracy activists has been beaten, possibly to death, in front of a Guardian journalist. Lu Banglie was last seen lying unconscious on the side of the road on Saturday night after an assault by a mob which had joined forces with police to stop a car containing him, the Guardian's Shanghai correspondent, Benjamin Joffe-Walt, and two other people.

They were on their way to Taishi, a village in the southern province of Guangdong which has become the latest flashpoint in a growing wave of rural unrest that is proving the greatest threat to the rule of the Communist party since the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.

Mr Lu, one of a new breed of peasant leaders elected without the support of the party, had been in the area on the outskirts of Guangzhou city since August, encouraging residents to vote out officials accused of corruption.

With Taishi seen as a symbol of the movement for peasant rights, this was an increasingly dangerous activity. Several academics, lawyers and human rights campaigners have been arrested by police and threatened by a mob that villagers say has been hired to keep visitors away. Several journalists who have entered the area have been detained or beaten, most recently last Friday, when correspondents for Radio France and the South China Morning Post were assaulted.

In Saturday's attack, Joffe-Walt said the car was stopped on a road outside Taishi by a group of about five police, five soldiers and as many as 50 people in plain clothes. The uniformed men soon left and then the mob set upon Mr Lu, dragging him out of the car and kicking him unconscious. They continued the assault for several minutes after he lost consciousness. "I was convinced he was dead and thought they were going to do the same to us," said Joffe-Walt. But he, his assistant and their driver escaped with being roughed up.

The Burmese arrest Aung San Suu Kyi and the world rightly reacts with fury, but the PRC are allowed to murder their opponents just because they represent a billion customers?

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 10, 2005 8:18 AM

C'mon, oj, how much fury did the world react to the Burmese with? Hardly a whit.

Posted by: pj at October 10, 2005 8:28 AM

We imposed unilateral sanctions. China deserves no less.

Posted by: oj at October 10, 2005 9:03 AM

The Burmese arrest Aung San Suu Kyi and the world rightly reacts with fury,

That would be the same fury that is now directed at Sudan and Zimbabwe?

but the PRC are allowed to murder their opponents just because they represent a billion customers?

Ah, that must be the reason that the press only speaks of Americans in the most glowing & loving terms; after all they represent the richest block of customers. Or is it instructive to compare and contrast the press treatment of Pinochet and Castro, look at their political affiliation and that of the Chinese government and use that as an explanation on why the press is largely silent?

Posted by: Daran at October 10, 2005 9:21 AM

By the way. It's not called Burma anymore.

Posted by: AllenS [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 10, 2005 9:25 AM

Seen on the side of the road:

There once was a country named Burma

That didn't have enough terra firma

So the commies took over

The world said whatever

And now we have a murder.

Poetry is difficult for AllenS

Posted by: AllenS [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 10, 2005 9:37 AM

The People's Republic of China is a criminal state run by criminals for a criminal cause. Using the word "mob" to describe those who murdered Lu and those who ordered his murder is simply the truth in the profoundest sense.

More than 2,000 years ago in China, there was a school of thought which argued that giving the proper names to things conferred great power. For far too long, far too many people who should have known better fooled themselves into thinking the Communists were China's best hope because the PRC was described as being "reformist" or "progressive." But there should be no more excuses for anyone who loves liberty to fall for those words of deceit. They have nothing to do with the People's Republic.

Let's finally call the PRC what it is: a state controlled by a self-selected cabal of gangsters who, in the pursuit of absolute power, have inflicted on the Chinese people the bloodiest and deadliest regime in their history.

Posted by: X at October 10, 2005 10:47 AM

Careful, X. You may lure Mr. Eagar out of retirement to tell you how the wonderful PRC saved China from the evil Chiang Kai-Shek...

Posted by: b at October 10, 2005 11:22 AM

And having open trade with them is no different than having it with Saddam or Hitler.

Posted by: oj at October 10, 2005 12:05 PM

Paging Walter Durante. Your expertise in reporting is in great demand.

Posted by: obc at October 10, 2005 1:44 PM

oj - Sanctions don't hurt the regime much, they hurt the people and solidify the regime; sanctions against Burma were purely symbolic, since there was no trade before the sanctions; and even had there been trade, sanctions would have been no more effective than they were against Saddam or Fidel.

We need to promote alternative power centers in China from the military and secret police and cadres; and commerce does that.

Posted by: pj at October 10, 2005 2:23 PM

Sanctions rendered Castro and Saddam impotent jokes, though I agree regime change is preferable.

Posted by: oj at October 10, 2005 4:39 PM

Castro was made an impotent joke only after the USSR stopped subsidizing him, and the current American embargo against Cuba is retarding democracy there, not aiding it.
The embargo of Cuba is currently a purely domestic political play, a way to help deliver Florida's votes to whomever is currently the POTUS.

Saddam was made one only due to the unusually monolithic nature of the sanctions, and even then there was widespread cheating.

Unilateral American sanctions against China wouldn't do anything to bring down the current regime.

They would make us feel better, and on that basis alone should be considered, but nobody should be deluded into thinking that sanctions would be more than a statement of pique.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 11, 2005 3:33 AM

No, he was a joke the whole time. JFK was just a rube.

Posted by: oj at October 11, 2005 7:40 AM


Yeah, MOST world leaders throughout history have been jokes, including American ones, as you note, but none of that means that they weren't dangerous or influential.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 11, 2005 9:46 AM

Sure it does.

Posted by: oj at October 11, 2005 11:03 AM

Hitler was eminently ridiculous, and look how much death and general misery he was responsible for.

Pol Pot was delusional, but that didn't save millions of Cambodians from death and worse.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 11, 2005 11:57 PM

Hitler led Germans.

Posted by: oj at October 12, 2005 1:04 AM