China is no longer a sleeping giant. The past few months have seen riots, strikes, and peasant clashes with police. If you lay out all these incidents on a map, you get more than a random data cloud; you see a slow seismic shift in a society of contrasts, where boundaries of class and power are being constantly redrawn.
The most high-profile uprising of recent weeks is the revolt in the Guangdong village of Wukan. Peasants began protesting to defend their land rights, accusing officials of handing over land to developers and bilking farmers out of millions of dollars worth of real estate.
By December, as with many land-rights struggles in the Global South, direct action was apparently the only leverage villagers had to push back against the local government. The death of a leading protester in police custody catalyzed their outrage, and after driving out local officials, the activists launched an ad-hoc self-governing occupation. Read the rest of this entry →