The Dragon Boat Festival (May 31) has a long history in Yingtan City, Jiangxi Province, China. The boat race commemorates the great patriotic poet, Qu Yuan (about BC 340-277) in China. However, the local communist authorities worried that the activity might attract too many people in one place. Allegedly fearful that such a large group of people might cause accidents or conflicts, the local communist regime banned the race by cutting in half about 1,000 dragon boats.
The action was revealed by a government official who participated in the plan but wanted to remain anonymous. The destruction caused many complaints from villagers.
According to Tengxun News Net and Apple Daily, Yuehu Security sub-bureau in Yingtan City, Jiangxi Province recently made this statement: “In order to build a new rural village under socialism, the authorities prohibited people from making or buying any materials relating to dragon boats through collecting money or donations.”
The authorities also said that because “the location does not conform to security conditions,” and the dragon boat racing activity may seriously affect social order, the authorities decided to completely ban the celebration.
On May 18, the Xiabu Village head Xia (Yingtan City, Jiangxi Province), pointed towards the destroyed dragon boats and said with an innocent expression, “I could not help it. The higher authorities said there will be no dragon boat race this year. All dragon boats have to be cut in half or smashed.” The local governments compensated 1,000 to 3,000 yuan (US$120.8 to $362.3) for each dragon boat, based on the year it was built.
The dragon boat race has a long history in Yingtan City. It’s a cherished, popular cultural celebration. People are complaining about the authorities’ fearful and ridiculous reaction.
One villager said, “It has been our custom for thousands of years. How can the authorities ban it just like that? How can our children know the history of dragon boat racing?”
Another person said emotionally, “It’s really disgraceful to cut a newly-made dragon boat in half. Those officials always complain that they don’t have money when people ask them to make a road or fix the wharf. Now they have so much money to replace 1,000 dragon boats. They paid tens of thousands of yuan in cash for compensation. It has really irritated people!”