Rural People “Blackmail” the Government

This is a story translated from this post by Wan Xiaodao. It’s difficult to confirm whether this is true or not, but at the very least, it’s quite interesting. It ends a bit abruptly, but that’s what the original is like.


A summary of the story:

The Cangzhou, Hebei peasant Chen Tongmei repeatedly traveled to the capital to seek an audience with higher-ups [to report grievances against the local Hebei government]. After returning, the Cangzhou government made arrangements to compensate Chen (they agreed on 100,000 RMB), sort of like keep-your-mouth-shut money, the meaning was ‘don’t go report to Beijing again’.

At this point the story diverges: One country cadre says that Chen suspected 100,000 was too little, and demanded 200,000. Three village cadres say Chen Tongmei didn’t want compensation, only justice. Afterwards, Chen was arrested on suspicion of trying to extort money from the government, and sentenced to five years in prison.

At the same time [Chen was being sentenced] in Cangzhou there were all kinds of cases of rural citizens extorting the government or the courts. These peasants were all sentenced, just like Chen Tongmei.

What’s interesting is that after the Chen Tongmei case the government had tasted something sweet [and didn’t want to let it go]. They started directly consulting with peasants who wanted to report things to Beijing, saying 300,000 RMB to not report [their grievances].

The peasants responded, and wrote guarantees [they wouldn’t report to the Beijing if they received the money]. Then, out of the blue, PSB officers would appear and take the peasants away, saying they [were trying to] extort the government. This story seems familiar, obviously it wasn’t the Cangzhou government’s original idea, they’re plagiarizing the famous Shanghai “fishing method of law enforcement”.

Another story is that when they were being sentenced the peasants had no lawyers to speak in their defense. Their relatives [tried to] help them find lawyers but had their IDs seized or were taken to PSB substations and weren’t allowed to seek lawyers. At the same time, [the government] was also afraid they would continue trying to report to Beijing.

0 thoughts on “Rural People “Blackmail” the Government”

  1. I’d treat this claim with suspicion.

    As weird as it seems to most Western folks, Chinese people have an incredible herd mentality going on. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but when it comes to excessively emotional debates, the herd turns into a mob. Chinese nationalism has suffered a lot due to its many blind purposeless followers, but at the same time, Western liberalism has also used this to garner a significant amount of support. Just because the commenters seem to be supportive of the comments does not increase the validity of his claims, but I suppose you know that already.

    Nowadays, it’s quite common to see people, especially on the internet, make derogatory or accusing comments about the authorities in their lives, whether it’s the teacher, the boss, or the government. That’s not to say they’re all false, as there are quite a few stupid teachers, abusive bosses, and corrupt officials around. But at the same time, many of these comments redirect anger from the individual in question to entire groups of people. The result is children viewing teachers as tyrannical oppressors, workers seeing any and all bosses as greedy bloodsuckers, and “the government”, as if it were a faceless presence made up of mindless drones that only existed to make people suffer at the direct orders of its highest leaders (who are surprisingly powerless, as is the case with all bureaucratic organizations), the source of all societal ills.

    So it’s easy to look at a scenario and claim, without any real evidence (as is the case here), and say that the government is at fault, just like how back in elementary, if the classroom smelled funny, it’s always because the greasy fat teacher farted. Of course, the teacher may very well have farted, but that’s not to say any weird smell in the room is necessarily because of him. Besides, why isn’t he ever given credit for the sweet scent of the air freshener he brought?

    It’s actually quite common for street vendors to attack 城管 personnel without provocation simply because of their (largely artificial) notoriety, and for owners of illegally constructed buildings to refuse demolition in order to to extort larger amounts of reparations. These people would then brag to their friends and the rest of the world through the internet about how they stuck it to “the Man”. When questioned about their behavior, their sympathizers would often deflect the question by commenting about the frequently uncivil behaviors of the demolition companies and 城管. The question of whether these people’s actions, just as uncivil, are at all justified by their perceived unjust treatment is never answered.


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  3. According to the definition of human right by media: unreasonable greediness is part of human right.
    Demanding money from government is the right given by God, no matter how ridiculous the demand is.

    Whose money is government’s money?
    I guess it’s people’s money, something media and journalists never remind people. What is funny is they are well-trusted by … people who lose their money to greedy assholes.

    What a masterful job of brainwashing by “free” media!


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