Villagers Question Chinese Government's Attitude Towards Shanwei Shooting Incident

By Ding Xiao, Radio Free Asia
December 16, 2005 12:00 am Last Updated: December 16, 2005 12:00 am

Ten days have passed since the Shanwei shooting incident, but authorities continue to arrest villagers. According to the villagers, the sound truck in the village has now added new contents in its propaganda: naming off a list of villagers and asking them to surrender.

Some Shanwei officials and police are even arresting “suspicious” people on the streets. A villager who owns a small shop said, “Everyday [they] spread propaganda on the streets, saying that they will arrest people, and we don't know how many they will arrest. They read a couple of representatives' names and ask them to surrender. Just now, they were spreading propaganda nearby. The officials run here and there on the streets, most of them are from Shanwei.”

Moreover, the monitoring of villagers has become more intense. A villager had called his neighbor and said he had found a bucket. The phone call may have been wire tapped by officials, who then suspected it was some sort of evidence and sent police to search these two houses, while not allowing people inside to leave. The search lasted for more than three hours, but in the end, it turned out to be only a bucket.

Under such pressure and the intense monitoring, fewer and fewer people have the courage to speak to those outside of the village. Even families that had lost relatives dare not ask the authority for the whereabouts of their relatives. A villager said, “More than three people have died, many people are lost, but the families are too afraid to say anything, they are afraid of bringing trouble upon their relatives.”

Besides preventing news from spreading beyond the village, the authorities have also cut off news from outside as well. Hong Kong TV programs can be received in Shanwei, but now news and advertisements from these programs have been deleted. The villagers said, “We can only watch TV series now, the news and ads are all deleted.”

Except for some official media in Guangdong Province that “formulaically” reported the Shanwei incident, other media in the country kept silent on it. An interview was conducted with a Beijing resident over the phone:

Reporter: Have you heard of the Shanwei shooting incident?

Beijing Resident: I've never heard of that.

Reporter: Hasn't this been reported in the news?

Beijing Resident: Not likely.

Reporter: Have you read it online?

Beijing Resident: I think those large websites won't report this kind of news. Although I don't know what happened, if this is what Radio Free Asia wants to interview, then we cannot read it from the sohu site ( or the sina site ( for sure.”

However, commentaries on this incident made by media from foreign countries and from Hong Kong are still at the boiling point. Hong Kong Apple Daily's commentaries on Thursday said, “This incident of bloody suppression in Dongzhou County, Shanwei City reveals that after over 20 years of reform, different levels of the Chinese government still don't respect the rights of citizens and wantonly trample upon them. The large number of government officials only serves for the interest of the rich, using the public security system, the police force and their weapons. As a result, the social order will collapse and people will completely lose their confidence to the government, the officials and the legal system.”

This resulting fear of the government even extends to children, as can be seen through the transcript below of an interview with a child in Dongzhou County:

Dongzhou Child: I am scared.

Reporter: Why are you scared?

Dongzhou Child: One day after school I ran into two groups of soldiers.

Reporter: Why are you so afraid of the soldiers?

Dongzhou Child: I hope they will not hurt us.

Reporter: Do you think they will hurt you?

Dongzhou Child: I don't know any more.

A local woman asked, “Can you tell me where Wen Jiabao, Chinese Premier, and others officials have gone? So much has happened in Shanwei, why don't they say anything about it?”

The central government has not clearly expressed their position towards the Shanwei incident. On the routinely held press conference by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a reporter asked, “Do you have any comments on the New York based human rights organization's involvement with investigating the Shanwei incident?” The spokesman responded, “This incident is still under investigation. The related departments will make decisions according to the law.”