Wei Jingsheng Foundation News and Article Release Issue: A749-W475

魏京生基金会新闻与文章发布号: A749-W475


Release Date: February 3, 2013



Topic: The Way Out for China (Part LXX): Peasant Issue Is Always a Big Issue in China -- Wei Jingsheng

标题:《中国的出路》之七十:农民问题是中国的一大问题 -- 魏京生


Original Language Version: Chinese (Chinese version at the end)



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The Way Out for China (Part LXX): Peasant Issue Is Always a Big Issue in China -- Wei Jingsheng



The peasant issue has always been a big issue in China.  Why do I call this the "peasant" issue instead of the "rural" issue?  First of all, the so-called rural society is composed chiefly of peasants.  The peasants are the principle part of these smaller societies.  However, each peasant is a separate individual, and besides the social issues, has his or her own personal and family matters that are not necessary social.  Thus it is a peasant issue, instead of a rural issue.


Second, since the Chinese Communist Party took over the power it has fixed everyone's identity according to the Western tradition of serfdom.  The peasants are fixed as the rural members with least rank, as distinguished from ordinary city residents, intellectuals, and official classes.  Unless they go through complex procedures with harsh requirements, most peasants find it very difficult to change their identities to get the same treatment as other citizens.  Thus the Chinese peasants, the group that comprises the majority population in China, is on the bottom of the caste system.


Third, a lot of the rural population has become the main source of labor in the urban industrial and service sector in recent decades.  The result is that the past inequalities of the social status between urban and rural China have changed into class inequalities within the city.  Therefore, it is no longer an issue in the rural society, but a peasant issue in the entire Chinese society.


During the Mao Zedong era, most of the peasants' issues were still problems in rural areas, and concerned the economic distribution issue in China for the peasant class as a whole.  At that time, the legal status of the inequality problem was not particularly prominent.  For the peasants themselves (really only a small portion of them) the issue was only about how to be able to get a city "HuKou" (a household registration in the city), and thus change the status of the individuals and families.  The availability of HuKous basically had no impact on rural or urban societies, and was not a serious problem.  It was only an issue that made a few people anxious and eventually affected only a small number of them.  It did not affect the overall situation.


Now it is different.  Since young girls from the countryside went to the cities to work as nannies in the 1980's, this migratory class has been in formation.  Rural manual labor went to the cities in the 1990's, gradually becoming the main source of labor for industrial development.  Especially in some coastal areas and larger cities, the development of industry and commerce not only caused the peasant workers in the cities to become a major source of industrial labor, it also made them an important supplementary source for local agricultural labor.


Under such circumstances, the problem of unequal class status has become quite serious, which has already caused a variety of social problems and even serious conflicts.  Early in 2012, there was the massive provincial conflict in Guangdong Province.  That was the result of the social inequalities of the class system.  On the surface, it was due to localism in Guangdong that caused conflicts attributed to discrimination against people from other provinces.  However, Guangdong has been a society that traditionally discriminated against outsiders.  Ever since the occurrence of large-scale massacres against foreigners during the Tang Dynasty, it has not had such a large-scale xenophobic event for over a thousand years.


Why?  That was because after the xenophobic massacres during the Tang Dynasty, the authorities learned a lesson and started a policy of class equality that was the same as in other areas.  On one hand, the authority no longer gave special preferential treatment and legal status to the businessmen of foreign nationalities; on the other hand, the authority dispersed those foreigners who were relatively affluent yet with different customs than the locals to different provinces.  Thus they avoided a large-scale conflict between the local residents and the foreigners that might otherwise have happened due to class and culture when the foreign settlement reached to certain size.


The present situation is slightly different than the Tang Dynasty, but more serious.  Now, there are a large number of people of the same culture but different class status living in the same area.  The unequal legal status results in some people been discriminated against, oppressed and exploited by some other people.  But both groups are not the absolute minority.  This situation is sufficient to cause serious social problems, even serious conflicts.  Once the conflicts break out, it will be far more than a local problem in the Tang Dynasty, and become the fuse for the outbreak of the collective social contradictions in China.


Today, as the Chinese bureaucratic capitalists exploit the working class generally, they exploit and oppress the working class from the countryside with even lower social status even more.  A large portion of the excess profits that they deliver to the western capitalists comes from this peasant class that is exploited and oppressed the most.  Therefore, maintaining this class with unequal legal status is making a slave-like competitor to the urban working people, which is useful to the big Chinese and foreign capitalists to obtain an even cheaper labor.  It is in line with the interests of Chinese and foreign capitalists, and thus has their joint support.


On the other hand, maintaining two different working classes with different interests through legal and systematic means, inciting discord between these two classes via unequal competition, using some people to suppress and combat with other people, using the strategy of division of the people as a way to rule them, has been the Communist Party's ruling strategy inherited from the Mao Zedong era.  Human beings are not perfect; they have a lot of congenital bad traits inherited from the animal stage.  When some Cantonese have their opportunity to discriminate and exploit outsiders, they will have a pleasure that is not so noble.  When that pleasure receives the support from the authorities, these people may even become proud and arrogant and thus increase their support of unfair politics.


Those outsiders who are forced into that unfair position not only have low social status but also are not the majority in their numbers.  Their legal status, their political status, their economic status, and almost all other aspects are not dominant.  Under the joint suppression of both the authority and the majority of the local people, these outsiders have only one thing to be dominant; that is to provide even cheaper labor.  So they have to use their only advantage to get the living space.  The result is that the labor price of the urban residents also becomes cheap goods in this competition.


Although artificially producing two huge classes of inequalities through its policies is an effective tool for the Communist Party to maintain authoritarian rule, it has divided the society into two major parts with opposed interests.  In particular, these two conflicting classes are mixed living in the same territory.  This situation is bound to have serious social conflicts, or unrest that leads to collapse during the social crisis.


In history, the societies that finally disintegrated all lurked with similar hidden danger.  The reason that Chinese society could remain intact to survive as a whole, after more than 2,000 years of various separations and reunions, is closely related to the class harmony in China resulting from a legal system of equality for all the people.  Not only in China, the stability and indivisibility of modern Western society is also derived from a legal system of equality for all, and thus resulting the weakening of class antagonisms.  So freedom, equality, and a legal system for equality are fundamental conditions for a long period of peace and order for a society.



To hear Mr. Wei Jingsheng's related commentary, please visit:



(Written and recorded on September 14, 2012.  Broadcasted by Radio Free Asia.)



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Wei Jingsheng Foundation News and Article Release Issue: A749-W475

魏京生基金会新闻与文章发布号: A749-W475


Release Date: February 3, 2013



Topic: The Way Out for China (Part LXX): Peasant Issue Is Always a Big Issue in China -- Wei Jingsheng

标题:《中国的出路》之七十:农民问题是中国的一大问题 -- 魏京生


Original Language Version: Chinese (Chinese version at the end)









-- 魏京生








































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