Explosive rage . . .

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 June, 2011, 12:00am


The man who set off three explosions outside government buildings in Fuzhou, Jiangxi, late last month, killing himself and two others, was a successful and generous businessman who was afraid of breaking the law, his half-sister and neighbours say.

Yet Qian Mingqi had a powerful sense of grievance after the government demolished his five-storey home in 2002 for a highway that was never built and offered him compensation he considered paltry.

The 52-year-old widower petitioned and microblogged and used oversized graffiti to vent his outrage. For his trouble, he was thrown in jail, beaten up and tossed into a psychiatric ward.

He nevertheless held on to a sense of justice, his half-sister and neighbours say, believing that a senior official was going to offer him reasonable compensation for his long-destroyed home. But then the official was transferred.

The morning of the explosions, Qian was telling a neighbour about the transfer of the official from the district prosecution department. He said he kept calling other officials but got no response.

Qian bombed three Linchuan government buildings within 27 minutes on the morning of May 26. The eight-storey prosecutors' office was shaken by a massive explosion after a van fully loaded with explosives blew up in its underground car park at 9.18am.

The second blast came 11 minutes later, at the district government office's car park, killing two security guards.

The third blast took place near the food and drug administration office at 9.45am. Xinhua said Qian died at the scene of one of the three blasts, which also injured five other people and destroyed many cars.

Qian made a good living from renting refrigerated coffins from his shop in their impoverished suburban village.

One of Qian's neighbours says he was not surprised that Qian was able to make the bombs because his technical proficiency was obvious from the way he designed and built his refrigerated coffins.

However, Qian's 40-year-old half-sister, Zhang Yilan (), says her brother was timid, law-abiding and afraid of getting into trouble.

'I still remember he once operated a shop collecting and reselling second-hand products when he was young,' she says. 'To my surprise, he abruptly decided to close the shop when he noticed someone had sold him stolen things, even though his business was running quite well at that time. He was simply too scared of doing anything that broke the law.'

Qian's five-storey home was demolished by the local authorities in 2002 to make way for the highway connecting Beijing and Fujian (). He had saved up to build it after the forced demolition of his first home, also to make way for a highway, seven years earlier.

Chen Dan (), the owner of a small plant next to Qian's shop, said: 'He said he was incensed when he learned that the highway did not actually end up going through the site of his demolished home, leaving the ground a desolate wasteland years after the destruction.'

Qian told her that the second house was worth at least 3 million yuan (HK$3.6 million), but he was offered no more than 250,000 yuan in compensation.

One of the 53 messages Qian left on his Sina Weibo microblog before his death reads: 'I ought to expect a certain amount of punishment if I robbed somebody of 10 yuan on the street. How come they can destroy my home, which was built fully in accordance with the law, but not properly compensate me?'

In another post early last month, Qian accused the head of the Linchuan district government, Xi Dongsen (), of embezzling more than 10 million yuan of land requisition funds and eviction allowances when he was in charge of party discipline, before dividing it up with his colleagues.

Qian said Xi's actions cost him more than 2 million yuan.

A police officer who investigated Qian's case says he refused to accept an empty lot on which he could build a house and instead insisted he deserved a much more valuable piece of land zoned for industrial and commercial use.

However, Qian's neighbours deny his compensation demands were excessive.

'Almost everyone around here knows that Qian's five-storey building was the best, in terms of both its construction and decoration,' says 36-year-old farmer Xu Ping () from Jiangjia village, where Qian lived for nearly 10 years before his death.

'You never have any choice but to let them demolish your home whenever the government asks you to make way for this or that. Without exception, we ordinary civilians will swallow the disappointment. He is the only one who has dared to stand up and fight back in that way,' said Xu.

These are edited versions of articles which ran in the South China Morning Post on June 11, 2011