Chongqing Fisherman Buys Newspaper Ad To Thank Government
Here is the historical context from more than one year ago:
(Li Gan's blog via DWnews) July 30, 2008.
In 2004, the Chongqing Dahonghu Water Produce Company sued citizen Yi Dade for overreaching on his fishing ground. But the Chongqing City Middle Court Number One ruled that this was an uncertainty involving the border between the Changshou district of Chongqing city and Shuiyuan county in Sichuan province. As such, the status quo should be maintained until as such time when the definition of the border is settled. Previously, Yi Dade had rented the area for almost twenty years already. At the time, there was no dissent against the court ruling.
On July 1, 2008, the Chongqing Dahongwu Water Produce Company unilaterally removed the fishing nets in Yi Dade's territory, causing several millions yuan in damages. Yi complained to various levels of government departments without result.
On the morning of July 29, Yi Dade began to cast nets again at the original location. At 11:20am, the Chongqing Dahongwu Water Produce Company organized almost 100 crime gangsters armed with machetes, axes, poles and rocks to attack the Yi family. During the process, Yang Dade's second son was beaten to death and the four others suffered serious injuries and are now hospitalized for treatment.
The Chongqing Commercial News reporter witnessed the crime and called the police at 11:20am. The police should have been there in 15 minutes, but they arrived at 12:00 noon. By that time, the perpetrators were long gone.
Fast forward to more than one year later ...
(Southern Metropolis Daily) Chongqing fisherman spent 100,000 yuan to buy ad to salute anti-corruption campaign. October 16, 2009.
On October 9, the peasant Yi Dade of Changshou district, Chongqing city spent 100,000 yuan to purchase a full-page four-color ad: "A salute to those who are on the front lines of eradicating criminal forces and pleasing public opinion."
For an ordinary peasant, 100,000 yuan is a lot of money. Is there a story inside? Yesterday, our reporter spoke to Yi Dade.
Yi Dade lives in Wanshun town, which is right on the border of Changshou district (Chongqing) and Linshui county (Sinchuan province). He reared fish for a living. The Chongqing Dahonghu Water Produce Company of Chongqing city wanted to take away that Yi Dade fishing area for nothing before the lease was up.
Q: I know the story behind the advertisement to thank the anti-corruption campaign ...
A: Yes. Our family reared fish for a living. Our district belongs to the reservoir area with an average of three fen of land per capital. We don't have enough land to farm on, so people either go outside to work or else they rear fish.
Q: How big is your fishing area?
A: The area that I rented was situated on the border of Changshou and Linshui. The government is not sure which side it belongs to. I have rental contracts from both sides. The Dahonghu Water Produce Company went to court against us four times. We won three times. The contract expires in 2012.
Q: How is fishing there?
A: Our Party has good policies. Our town residents became wealthy through fish rearing. An area of 500 miu of water can generate 300,000 to 400,000 yuan in income, even as much as 400,000 to 500,000 yuan. I have been renting for more than a decade.
Q. That is a good income.
A: At first, I was inexperienced and I did not earn much. Eventually I figured things out and it got better. Then trouble came along.
Q: Did the company want you to return the rights earlier?
A: Everybody else returned the rights upon expiration. Some groups still have ongoing leases which they have not returned yet. They are usually groups of ten families or so. Only my group consisted of one family. Since this was a border area with a small area, there are many risks. If the water runs too fast, the fish will be washed away and you end up with nothing. If you want me to yield my area, you should negotiate about the compensation with me. But they just ripped my nets out. They took the nets out on July 1st with a party of more than 100 persons. I contacted the government and the fishery. I wrote more than ten letters without getting any response.
Q: Have they threatened you before?
A: They have threatened me before. They threatened me frequently.
Q: Were you afraid?
A: I was not afraid. I did not break any state laws.
[July 29, 2008 was the birthday of the third son of Yi Dade. On that day, the Dahonghu Water Produce Company assembled almost 100 thugs who assaulted the Yi family. Five members of the Yi family were severely injured. The second son died that afternoon.]
Q: That day should have been a happy day for your family.
A: It was the birthday of my third son. He had been in Guangxi. According to our local village custom, we have to celebrate this thirtieth birthday. Our whole family gathered together. The gangsters charged in to cause trouble with machetes and rods in their hands. We were scared. They gave me a whack with a rod as soon as they came in. They did not say a word. My finger was cut off. I was hit three times on the head with a rod. The most pitiful was my second son. According to the fishing boat operator afterwards, he saw them beat him three times until he died. As soon as he got up, they beat him again. They beat him when he got up.
Q: Was he usually here?
A: He was in the transportation business. He used to be in Chengdu and he ran several companies. He was the smartest among the children. Frankly, I esteemed him most of all. He usually only came back for the Chinese New Year. This time, he came back to celebrate the birthday of his younger brother.
Q: In retrospect ...
A: On that day, the family was very happy. I said that I wanted to get off work early. I had already told people. I did not imagine such a thing could happen. I never imagined it. That was too cruel. We were very happy. My sons were all good people who worked outside. Everybody came back. The fish was cooked. Then it happened.
Q: Your family was doing well.
A: We were doing well. We worked hard and we earned our money through labor. We were very happy.
Q: The second son died. The fourth son suffered brain damage with aftermaths. The oldest son and Yi Dade were confined to bed at the hospital. The third son went to Chaotianmen and threatened to jump off the building if he did not get to see "Blue Sky" Wang (aka Wang Lijun).
A: I am not sure about the details because I was lying in bed for several months at the hospital. My third son told me that he had nowhere to go to. He heard that Chongqing just got a new anti-corruption chief named Wang. He was a "Blue Sky" Wang. But how can he get to see him? So he went up that building, he cried there, and he said that he wanted to jump off the building because he had grievances. He wanted to see director Wang. Four or five hours later, he met Director Wang.
Q. Did director Wang actually come?
A: Director Wang actually came.
Q: What did he say?
A: He agreed to take on the case of my son. He said that the case will be dealt with fairly.
[Yi Dade had to wait for one year before the verdict was rendered. He was not pleased with the results of the final verdict given in July. The murderer who killed his second son was only sentenced to 15 years in prison. The "mastermind" who was in charge of the Water Produce company was given a suspended sentence. Yi Dade was sentence to three years in prison (with a three years suspension) for assembling a group to fight.]
Q: On the verdict document, the final position was that you assembled a group to fight. Do you agree with that characterization?
A: No. I think that they were "gangsters."
A: When they injured people with knives that day, what else are they but "gangsters"? As long as the murderers are not punished severely, I feel that I have not done right for my late son.
Q: You have doubts with the verdict position?
A: Yes. The worst part is the "crime gang" leader only received a light sentence.
Q: Did you think that you were guilty?
A: I was not guilty.
Q: What do you and your wife think about the current anti-corruption campaign?
A: As long as the gangs are there, evil will rule in the city, villages and businesses. They will rip you off by many methods and there isn't a thing that you can do about it. So this has been good for a "peaceful Chongqing."
Q: Is one of your unstated goals to draw the attention of the media and the government and re-open your case?
A: It is up to the masses to decide whether to be concerned or not. The main thing is that I want Bo Xilai and Wang Lijun to become more powerful. They have to expose even more masterminds behind the scene, because the evil is too deeply rooted. I mainly want to thank the People's Government for fighting the evil criminals. That was my main goal. I have no other intention.
Q: So how did you come up with the idea of getting an advertisement?
A: At first, I wanted to go the Liberation Stele with my friends and families and display a banner to express our gratitude. But after talking with the family, we thought that other people have done this before. Besides, traffic would be interrupted if a lot of people show up. I also wanted to post on the Internet, but we don't know how to do that. Therefore, we thought about getting a newspaper advertisement, which has broad influence without affecting traffic.
Q: Whose idea was it?
A: We came up the idea together. After we decided on the approach, we spent a week to prepare. I came up with the wording that was published. At first, I wanted to write to thank Bo Xilai and Wang Lijun because I felt strongly. We contacted another newspaper at first, but they had concerns and they rejected us. At the time, I had even wired the money into their account, but they refunded the amount to me. Then we contacted the Chongqing Business News. We visited them on October 8 and the advertisement appeared the next day.
Q: One full page. An extra large page.
A: When we the people of Chongqing make a toast, we will not drink just half a cup. We will go all the way. If I ask only for half a page, I would be half-hearted.
Q: Don't you feel that it is expensive? 100,000 yuan can do a lot of things ...
A: The initial price was 200,000 yuan. They considered that I am a peasant in special circumstances, so they gave me a discount down to 100,000 yuan. I am quite satisfied.
Q: What do you think about the result after you saw the newspaper?
A: I was staying at the place of my eldest son. I woke up just after 7am to get the newspaper. I thought that the result was quite satisfactory.
Q: Aren't you afraid of attracting trouble by being so open?
A: I have this idea. I am a person who had already died once before already. I am more than 50 years old. I have nothing left to be afraid of. When director Wang came to Changshou, he told me, "Old Yi, I am a peasant just as you are a peasant. You can win a lawsuit against business-government collusion!"
Q: What is your impression of director Wang?
A: He is approachable. He came to the Changshou district and he asked us to come to discuss the case. He told me the above quietly on the side. Therefore I am grateful to him.
Q: Will they compensate you for your losses?
A: We lost more than 1 million yuan. We also had to pay them 500,000 yuan for damages. The fish were all gone. The government has restored the fish pond and returned it to me. I should be grateful to the government.
Q: The anti-corruption campaign is going at full pace. Do you follow it on television or in newspapers?
A: I pay a lot of attention. I was especially happy that they brought down the biggest "gangster" in Wen Qiang. At the time, the person in charge of my case was Huang Daiqiang. He was a deputy squad leader in the criminal investigation unit. He was a key underling for the "gangster" Wen Qiang.
56-year-old Yi Dade seems to be a honest peasant. He spent his own money to buy an advertisement in part because he was genuinely grateful for the anti-corruption campaign. But I believe even more that he wanted to gain media attraction so that his own case can be re-examined. He reckons that Huang Daqiang, who had been charge of the case, has been busted and therefore his case should be re-tried. As I observe this old man hobble away, I can only wish him the best of luck.