Chinese Report: More Than Two Million Peasants Protest in October 2004

February 8, 2005

According to the Hong Kong newspaper Cheng Ming, an internal circular issued by China’s Central Commission for Comprehensive Management of Public Security reported that more than 2 million peasants in 122 counties took part in a total of 705 demonstrations and other forms of protest in October 2004. The list of protests reportedly includes incidents involving 50,000 in Heilongjiang, 100,000 in Anhui, 150,000 in Chongqing. Eighty-two of the demonstrations are described as involving damage, injuries, or death, with more than 320 people were killed or injured.

China was hit by a wave of large protests and demonstrations throughout the fall of 2004 (see related story here). Although there are numerous reasons for such unrest, the seizure of farmland for development is a leading cause in rural areas. According to another Hong Kong publication, the Jingji Ribao, a recent study by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences concludes that that land seizures are causing a serious crisis in rural China. Chinese rural development specialist Yu Jianrong recently reported that land seizures have displaced high taxes as the primary focus of peasant activism. A list of recent land protests reported in the media is available here. The government has responded to the unrest with a mix of repression (censoring reporting on land seizures, breaking up demonstrations violently, and arresting property rights activists) and policy initiatives designed to address corruption and abuse in the land sector.

Both the Cheng Ming and Jingji Ribao articles were summarized in a FBIS report on January 28.