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People living the China nightmare

According to the Chinese Constitution, “the People's Republic of China is a socialist state ... led by the working class and based on the alliance of workers and peasants.”

Taken literally, that should mean that people such as farmers and migrant workers are the masters of the country. But, as events show, such is not the case; in fact, quite the contrary.

On July 20, Ji Zhongxing, originally a farmer from Shandong province but now paralyzed from the waist down and unemployable, detonated a home-made bomb at the Capital International Airport in Beijing, losing his left hand in the process. However, after six frustrating years, he has finally succeeded in getting the attention of officialdom.

The young man, now 34, tried to make a living in Guangdong operating a taxi business with his motorbike. But one night in June 2005, the then 26-year-old was savagely beaten by chengguan — low-level “city management” officials who often are little more than thugs — and ended up in a wheelchair for life.

As is often the case, the court in Dongguan, whose judges are paid by the local government, found the local authorities not guilty. This happens routinely across the country, a legal phenomenon known as “local protectionism.”

Then followed years of petitioning, to no avail. As Ji wrote in despair in a blog post, “We looked to the sky, and the sky looked away; we called to the earth, and the earth did not respond. We have been forsaken but have nobody to turn to.”

In the wake of the airport bombing, the Dongguan city government said it was reopening the investigation into the case. The Dongguan intermediate court, too, has reportedly reopened its investigation.

Perhaps Dongguan will finally give Ji Zhongxing the justice he seeks. But, of course, he will never get justice. He is still confined to his wheelchair, now minus his left hand. And he no doubt faces criminal charges.

News of the bombing came only three days after another incident that also put the chengguan in the spotlight. Deng Jiazheng, a watermelon grower in Hunan province, was reportedly beaten to death by “city management” officials in Chenzhou after they refused to let him sell his produce and hit him on the head with metal weights used to weigh the melons.

Media reports say that thousands of people attempted to block law enforcement officials from removing his body to ensure that an autopsy determining the cause of death would be held. In the end an autopsy was performed but the results have not been released.

More bad news from the chengguan followed. On July 23, they beat Ren Jia, a policeman in Xining, capital of Qinghai province, when he responded to a report that people were being assaulted by chengguan who were forcibly trying to clear a flower plantation for demolition. They seized the policeman's baton and beat him with it.

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