In Guangzhou, Softer Hand Toward Protesters Suggests Ulterior Motive

By Tang Ming, Epoch Times
November 28, 2011 Updated: December 4, 2011
Hundreds of migrant workers take to the streets of Huadu District in Guangzhou City
At 12 a.m. on Nov. 18, hundreds of migrant workers take to the streets of Huadu District in Guangzhou City. Local police escort the protesters at the front and on both sides. (Weibo)

Local police did not prevent two recent protests in Guangzhou Province, a rare occurrence that has generated much speculation about why the usual heavy-handed tactics were not used against the protestors.

At 12 a.m. on Nov. 18, hundreds of migrant workers took to the streets in Huadu District in Guangzhou City. They held signs saying, “Pay me the money I earned with blood and sweat” and “I want to eat.” Local police escorted the protesters as they marched through town.

Ms. Sun, who works in Huadu District, told The Epoch Times that while she was out for lunch she was surprised to see police officers making way for and protecting protesters who were marching on the street.

Some bystanders also commented that the regime has always used violence to oppose protests by civilian groups. It was the first time that a protest by migrant workers had a benevolent police escort.

At 8 a.m. on Nov. 21, several thousand villagers from Wukan Village in Lufeng County of Guangdong Province also took to the streets. The villagers have had a long battle with the local authorities over land grabs, and their previous protest in September received international attention.

villagers from Lufeng County, Guangdong Province

This time marchers held colorful banners with bold slogans that read “Down with Dictatorship,” “Punish the Corrupt,” and “Give Us Our Rights Back.”

They walked for two hours to the city government building and peacefully demanded the return of illegally seized land.

Hong Kong’s Oriental Daily quoted Chinese commentator Zhu Jianguo as saying that the two peaceful protests are a sign of the Guangdong authorities taking different measures to maintain stability. Zhu also said that Wang Yang, the Provincial Party Secretary, is paving his way for next year’s 18th National Congress.

Shi Cangshan, a China expert living in Washington D.C. told The Epoch Times that it is too early to be optimistic about China’s or Guangdong’s political situation, because the regime has played similar games over the past several decades.

Zhu said that the Guangdong local police must have received directions from upper levels to allow the two large-scale protests to happen. Wang Yang is considered to be a likely candidate for the next Politburo Standing Committee. In recent years, violent protests have frequently erupted in Guangdong Province. Zhu commented that if two more rounds of bloody protests were to happen now, they would pose a threat to Wang Yang’s political future.

The political landscape in China is in a very nuanced period, Shi said, while the upcoming change of power in 2012 has triggered internal struggles among Party factions: there is Bo Xilai’s Chongqing model, Wang Yang’s Guangdong model, Jiang Zemin’s Shanghai Gang, and so on.

Wang Yang recently ordered the provincial propaganda department to scale up public opinion monitoring. However, the exact opposite happened in northern China: recently some leftists in Shanxi and Hebei province openly burnt Southern Media Group publications, including newspapers and magazines.

Read the original Chinese article.