About 300 people gathered on Sunday in Chaoyang District to protest a proposed high-speed rail that would connect Beijing and Shenyang. As noted earlier, they demonstated peacefully, holding mass-printed pieces of paper that read, “Support 18th Congress, oppose bureaucracy” (among other slogans). Oiwan Lam of Global Voices adds more information:
The protest was in reaction to a report by the Ministry of Environmental Protection [zh] which claims that 37.27% Beijing residents supported, while 24.01% opposed the planned express train route which cuts across a number of highly dense residential districts in Beijing’s downtown area. Many residents claimed that they had not done any survey and were outraged by the result.
In the video (QQ version after the jump for those in China), one protester says her home is just 50 meters away from the proposed line, and she’s worried the noise will disturb her children and elders. Just after the minute-mark, an old man imitates the sound of trains, which is kind of cute. The people chant, “Express train, route change.” (Maybe not the best translation of “高铁该线,” but it rhymes.)
International media outlets describing the protest all invariably use the word “rare,” implying the event was significant because it was allowed to happen. We’re not sure we’d go that far describing a 300-person gathering — and look, did we all just forget the Diaoyu protests? — but it will be interesting to see whether any changes result. Now that would be news.
The incident also made Chinese TV, by the way.
Great post. Of course they would say it is “rare” because anything else would go against the narrative that China is a total police state.
I think when you deride the assertion that protests are rare in China, you might be forgetting just how common very visible protests are in the United States, especially in the capital.
Feels like I am your comment curmudgeon lately…
They way people were using “rare” shifted the focus from the primary story — trains running through backyards — to the secondary one (caricaturing here): “China is an authoritarian system where protests aren’t allowed, cause China sucks.” Reuters et al. were just trying to provide context, I understand (and justification for running the story), but I think they were after the wrong context. Something I’d be curious to learn: what’s the efficacy of Chinese protests vs. first-world ones? What are the issues that Chinese are more likely to protest? etc.
Keep em coming.