No wonder so many are angry

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 June, 2011, 12:00am


Qian Mingqi, who took his own life and those of three other people when he detonated bombs outside government offices in the Jiangxi city of Fuzhou, committed a terrible crime. But to many people on the mainland he is regarded as a hero - a man driven to desperation by the injustices of a corrupt and ineffective system. They can relate to the mistreatment he endured at the hands of authorities and the stony silence and harassment to which he was subjected as he tried for years to address wrongs through legal means. The anger and outpouring of sympathy that have erupted in internet forums are the starkest of warnings that more than economic development is required to create an equitable society.

In Qian's case, it was more the lack of the rule of law than a need for money that pushed him over the edge. His sad life is detailed in his microblog and has been backed by those who knew him. Twice he was the victim of forced demolitions. He lost his wife, his homes, his savings and ultimately, his life. For nine years he petitioned government offices in Fuzhou and Beijing, seeking a fair hearing and better compensation. He was met by silence, as are hundreds of thousands of people who, each year, take the same route because of the lack of a fair and accessible means of resolving disputes and attaining justice. So he turned to the internet to get attention, starting a blog and detailing his injustices. Again, he was ignored, but his story could be read by countless others facing the same dilemma.

Life for many people is not getting easier, despite economic growth. Prices are rising, but salaries are not keeping pace. With local government budgets more dependent than ever on land deals and the rush for infrastructure, the tide of people being forced from their homes on unfair terms is growing. There is a fear that Qian's path will increasingly be seen as the one to take. The desperation and anger will grow until there is a proper mechanism to deal with grievances.