The Yinhuang Self-Immolation Incident

(Southern Metropolis Daily)   2010.09.12

The incident took place in Fengfang town, Yihuang county, Fuzhou city, Jiangxi province.  Zhong Rukui's family lived in this three-storey building.  They have three housing ownership certificates, belonging to the brothers Zhong Rutian, Zhong Rukui and Zhong Rumen respectively.  In 2007, the Yihuang county government wanted to build a new bus depot.  With the approval of higher level government departments, they began to relocate nearby residents to make way for the new depot.  The process moved along slowly because some residents were dissatisfied with the compensation and relocation arrangements.  The Zhong family's three-storey house was the last holdout.

According to Zhong Rucui, the sister of the three Zhong brothers, electricity to their house was cut off in May this year.  Water was also cut off.  The Zhong family was forced to purchase their own electricity generator which ran on gasoline purchased from a nearby gas station.

At past 9am on the the day of the incident, a team of more than 40 police officers and urban administrators came to their home using the pretext that they wanted to look for gasoline.  Zhong Rucui asked, "Do you have a search warrant?"  The answer was that this was an "emergency."

At the time, Zhong Rucui and her two younger sisters Zhong Rujin and Zhong Rujiu, her mother Luo Zhifeng and an elderly man Ye Zhongcheng were home.

Zhong Rucui argued with the officials while the others locked the door.  Several minutes later, the police forced themselves into the house.  Zhong Rucui tried to stop them.  She said that they pulled her away by the hair.

According to photos obtained by our reporter, Lu Zhifeng and Ye Zhongcheng went on the roof with gasoline canisters in hand.  Within a minute, they were on fire.  Zhong Rucui said that she was held down on the ground at the time, and so she did not know how the fires got started.  "We know that they came here to restrain us and then demolish our house by force.  The construction machines were here.  My mother and my uncle might have lost control of their emotions."  After hearing that her mother and uncle were on fire, Zhong Rucui wanted to go help them but she was held firmly down on the ground.  According to the photos from the scene, Zhong Rujin jumped out of the second floor like a fireball.  Later Zhong Rucui asked Zhong Rujiu who was taking photos about what happened, but the latter did not know.

After Zhong Rujin jumped down in a fireball, Zhong Rucui struggled free and put out the fire with sand along with her brother Zhong Rukui who had just rushed over to the scene.  According to the photos, none of the other people did anything.  They merely held their arms akimbo and watched.  According to the photos, Zhong Rukui got on the roof six minutes after the fire started to bring Luo Zhifeng and Ye Zhongcheng down.  By that time, the fires had ran out of gasoline to burn.  Fourteen minutes after the fire started, they were taken downstairs and put into an ambulance.

Zhong Rucui did not remember who called for the ambulance.  She and Zhong Rujin had asked the police to take the victims to the hospital in the police car.  But the police said that the police care cannot be used for this purpose and they had to wait for an ambulance.

After the self-immolations took place, all the cameras and mobile phones of the Zhong family members were confiscated.  The photos that our reporter obtained were taken by a neighbor from a distance.  As Zhong Rucui said, not a single uniformed person participated in any rescue activity.

The three injured persons were taken to the Yihuang County Hospital.  All three are in critical condition.  They were then moved to the Burn Center at Nanchang University Number One Auxiliary Hospital.

Zhong Rucui said that the entire family has gone to Nanchang city.  The house is still standing, with a sister-in-law and a nephew staying there.  She said that she can't sleep because she sees the sight of her mother and sister on fire whenever she closes her eyes, as well as hearing the sound of her mother crying for her.

(XXZB)  Photos taken at the scene.


"How are you?  My name is Zhong Rujiu.  I am the youngest daughter in the family involved in the self-immolations in Yihuang county, Fuzhou city, Jiangxi province.  I have seen how everybody on the Internet has been concerned about my family.  I am very grateful."  On September 17, Zhong Rujiu started a microblog at  Thereafter, every single word of hers has drawn the attention of tens of thousands of netizens.

At around 2am on September 18, Zhong Rujiu announced that her father's good friend Ye Zhongcheng has passed away.  More than ten minutes later, she made three new posts to describe how the authorities seized Ye's body by force.

"Many government people have surrounded us now."

"Seventh to eighty people surrounded us and seized the body of our uncle."

"After the government people seized the body of our uncle, we attempted the lead car in which county mayor Su Jianguo was sitting.  But Su Jianguo sat passively in the car.  More than 40 other Yihuang county officials then dragged us away by force."

The next microblog update by Zhong Rujiu took place at past 8am on September 18.  "The violent effort by the Yihuang government led by Su Jianguo to seize the body of my uncle caused my brother to suffer a hip injury.  He is still unable to stand up straight.  My third sister sprained her ankle.  She cannot talk because the ankle is swollen.  We all suffered scratch wounds.  I would like to know if there is any justice in this world?  Why won't they even let a dead person go."

Just as Zhong Rujiu got read to visit her mother and sister at the hospital, "As soon as I got out of the door, four or five persons tried to grab me.  I sprinted for my life with them chasing me.  Finally I hopped into a taxi and got away ..."

At this point, it seemed that the microblogber became her brother Zhong Rutian who was in Beijng.  "I just received information that my family and the body of my uncle have been taken back (from Nanchang city) to Yihuang county.  My brother, my youngest sister Rujiu and three others are held in house arrest at the Yihuang Longteng Hotel.  My nephew hid his mobile phone.  He just sent the information over to me ..."  Zhong Rutian made the microblog post just after 4pm on September 18.

Zhong Rutian also disclosed that Zhong Rugui's wife went to the hotel, got down on her knees and begged the guards to let her see the family.  They refused.

At around 7pm on September 18, our reporter dialed through to Zhong Rujiu's mobile phone.  There was a heart-rending howling cry in the background.  The sobbing Zhong Rujiu said: "We have been released.  We are looking at the body of our uncle."

Zhong Rujiu calmed down and told our reporter what happened.  "The hospital notified us that my mother and my sister will undergo more operations.  Our signature was required.  So I, my sister and my brother headed for the hospital separately.  But as soon as Zhong Rujiu stepped our of the hotel, four or five persons tried to grab her.  As Zhong Rujiu wrote in her microblog, she knew that they would not assault her in public and so she fought her way out and jumped into a taxi.

But when Zhong Rujiu arrived at the Nanchang University Number One Auxiliary Hospital where her mother and sister were staying, she found that even more people were waiting for he.  "Dozens of people surrounded us and wanted to take us back to Yihuang.  We refused.  They began to drag us over."  After some struggle, the five members of the Zhong family were taken home against their will.

During the trip, Zhong Rujiu asked the Yihuang officials why they had to take the family and the body of their uncle back to Yihuang by force?  "They told us that they wanted the uncle to go back to his roots.  They also said that our behavior may disrupt the routine at the hospital.  If there are problems, we should go back to Yihuang and discuss."

(Ming Pao)   2010.09.20

In Yihuang county, Fuzhou city, Jiangxi province, three persons in a nailhouse home set themselves on fire while defending against demolitionists.  The three daughters of the family head Zhong Rucui, Zhong Rutian and Zhong Rujiu were ready to go to Beijing to petition their case.  But they were forcibly intercepted by the county party secretary and more than forty men.  Yesterday, they were hauled into a bus and taken away.  The photo of Zhong Rujiu pounding on the bus window for help was circulated across the microblogs.  The censors kept deleting the photo, but microbloggers kept re-posting.  Last night, Zhong Rujiu and her companions were released.  Meanwhile it was announced that the county party secretary, the county mayor and six other officials were relieved of their duties immediately and placed under investigation.

Previously on September 10, a team of more than 100 demolition workers were ready to raze the Zhong family house.  There was a physical clash and negotiations got nowhere.  The mother Luo Yufeng, the daughter Zhong Rujin and a food friend of the father Ye Zhongcheng got on the roof, douse themselves with fire and immolated themselves.  The three were taken later to the hospital.  Luo Yufeng and Zhong Rujin were seriously injured.  Ye Zhongcheng passed away yesterday morning from his injuries.

After his death, the local government sent 70 to 80 persons to seize the body Ye Zhongcheng.  The family demanded to get the body back to no avail.  According to Zhong Rucui, the family called the police who took no action.

Zhong Rujiu is the youngest of the nine Zhong children.  She is only 22 years old.  Last Thursday, she attempted to go with her sister Zhong Rucui to travel to Beijing to petition.  They were violently stopped by the county party secretary Yu Jianguo leading more than 40 men.  The two sisters ducked into a restroom and sought help.

The <Phoenix Weekly> reporter Deng Fei broadcast the <Assault on the ladies' restroom> live via microblog.  More than 1 million netizens viewed his posts.  The mobile telephone numbers of many of the Yihuang county officials were posted, and their phones were deluged by calls and text messages from netizens.  The officials promised the Zhong sisters that there would be "negotiations" and so the sisters came out and left the airport.  Although called Deng Fei later to ask for his post to be removed, the incident had already become widely known.

Zhong Rujiu came to the realization that appealing to the Internet was more effective than going to petition in Beijing.  So she and her siblings opened microblogs and reported on the latest developments.  Yesterday morning at 9am, Zhong Rujiu and four other relatives were taken onto a bus.  The photo of her appealing for help through the windows and her message for assistance was re-posted several tens of the thousand of times.  Although the posts were deleted continuously, netizens kept re-posting it.

Yesterday at noon, the Xinhua news agency announced that the Yihuang county party secretary and county mayor were relieved of their duties on the evening of September 17, some netizens are skeptical because the mayor was still in charge of seizing the body of Ye Zhongcheng on the evening of September 17.  So was the Xinhua report just a ruse to "put the fire out"?

Yesterday evening, Zhong Rujiu was released and returned home.  She is grateful for the concern showed by the people.  She said that Fuzhou city vice-mayor Chen Riwu had begun negotiating with the Zhong family and promised them that their personal freedom will be guaranteed.  She said that her mother and fifth sister will be receiving skin graft operations today.  "I hope that the nightmare has passed."

(Time Weekly)  Deng Fei: The Microblog Tsunami.  October 14, 2010.

At around 7:10am, Time Weekly reporter Liu Chang received a call from Yihuang incident principal Zhong Rucui. She claimed that she and her younger sister Zhong Rujiu were going to take the 8:15am flight to Beijing but she was clearly prevented from doing so.  Therefore she was disappointed.

Zhong Rucui and Zhong Rujiu were going to be interviewed by Phoenix TV.  At the airport terminal, they were trying to get their boarding passes when they encountered the people that they would least like to meet -- the Yihuang cadres.  More than ten men and women surrounded them wordlessly.  Zhong Rucui sought help from the airport workers, who asked those individuals to desist. The airport workers then took the Zhong sisters to a passenger lounge and summoned the police.

Yihuang county party secretary Qui Jianguo and deputy mayor Liu Wenbo arrived at the scene.  Several minutes later, a deputy director at the Changbei Airport arrived with police officers.  They took the almost paralyzed sisters into the police station.

It was at this moment that the Zhong sisters called Liu Chang.

Lu Chang attempted to obtain the telephone number of the Changbei Airport Public Security Bureau.  But nobody picked up the phone when he called. At 7:39am, Liu Chang made a microblog post: "<Emergency Appeal For Help:  At 7am today, the two daughters of the Zhong family victims in the Wuzhou self-immolation incident were trying to purchase airplane tickets at the Changbei Airport to complain about their case in Beijing.  There were placed under control by more than 40 YIhuang government/party persons who had been monitoring them.  The family made a police report to no avail.  They are presently in detention state.  They are pleading for help from netizens."

Liu Changfa also posted the telephone number of the Jiangxi Civilian Airport Changbei Public Security Bureau.  However, calls to that number did not go through.

At first, Liu Chang's microblog post drew only very few re-posts.  About 20 minutes later, there was a turning point.   Internet opinion leader Murong Xuecun re-posted the Liu Chang post.  Thereafter, the reposts increased at a geometric rate.  Within less than one hour, the post got forwarded more than 1,000 times.  By the morning, the microblog post had been forwarded more than 2,700 times with more than 1,000 comments.

At 7:50am, less than 30 minutes before the airplane was due to depart, Zhong Rucui asked the police station deputy director for help.  By the other party said that he had to consult with his superiors first.  As the deputy director left, Liu Wenbo kept doing "thought work" on the Zhong sisters (给钟家姐妹做思想工作).  Shortly afterwards, the police station deputy director returned to the office and told Zhong Rucui: "The superiors have ordered that the Zhong sisters cannot board the plane."  As the argument went on, time was slipping away.

When the clock hand reached 8:30am, the airplane left.

Liu Chang called me in an urgent voice.  He was trying to get as many reporters to follow up -- he would like his outlet to come up with the exclusive story, but he was unwilling to see the subjects get damaged.  I got out of bed and checked out the situation via the microblogging service.

The airport police station people recommended to the Zhong sisters to leave the airport terminal and speak to the Yihuang officials elsewhere.  The sisters had to leave the police station.  But the Yihuang people were still following them.  The Zhong sisters walked by a women's restroom, dashed in and locked themselves in the cubicle in the farthest corner.

They were treating the women's restroom as their last refuge.

Several minutes later, a female stranger said, "You come out and tell us if there is anything."  Zhong Rucui called back, "Must we be monitored even if we use the restroom?"  There was a temporary silence outside.  But the knocking on the door resumed every several minutes.

Zhong Rucui and her young sister stayed inside a cubicle and hugged each other.  They called Phoenix TV to explain that they had been blockaded at the airport.  They kept contact with Liu Chang and described the scene.  Liu Chang kept speaking to them while typing to inform me via QQ.

At 8:57am, I posted this message on the microblog: "<Changbei airport live broadcast>  Surrounded by more than 40 government officials led by the county party secretary, the family of the burn victims has no escape.  The flight has been delayed.  Zhong Yujiu is so exhausted that she has fainted.  Fortunately the doctor treated her at the scene, and she is presently alright."

As a reporter, I thought that I could sustain the attention on the incident.  I went to a reporters' QQ group and asked people to pay attention.

At 9:04am, I made my second microblog post: "Changbei airport live broadcast: Two women hiding in the restroom keep contact with China> The <New Era> reporter Liu Zhang keeps contact with the family members.  An airport police station deputy director told them: There is a national inspection today and the family members are required to go through safety inspection inside the police station.  The family members declined.  At this time, the two Zhong sisters are still holding up inside a women's restroom by the boarding area inside the airport.  They dare not come out.  They are keeping contact with China by telephone."

It was such a sad thing to think that two young women were forced to go into the women's restroom in order to keep contact with the outside world.  This reminded me of a big poster at the Beijing Wenda Cinema: In the movie <Connected> featuring Louis Koo and Little S, a kidnapped woman improvised a simple telephone and got a kind-hearted man from the outside to rescue her.

But not every netizen has seen this movie.  But they can imagine a scene in which two women had to hide inside a women's restroom while a bunch of tough guy officials wait outside to take them away.  They needed help.  They needed the world to save them.

Zhang Xianliang said that he does not want to write novels anymore.  One reason was that the news is even more dramatic than any story.

I saw that the numbers of "forwards" and "comments" for the microblog posts began to swell.  I attempted to make the subject more relaxed to draw more viewers.  I turned the whole incident into a live broadcast event -- the siege of the women's restroom is a battle with distinct characters.  I asked for help on the QQ group for colleagues to gather information on the Zhong sisters and the relevant government/party officials.

At this time, the <Southern Metropolis Daily> reporter Zhang Guodong and the <New Era Weekly> reporter Liu Hongqiao were both heading towards the Changbei airport from Nanchang city.

The stir on the reporters' QQ group caused the Beijing Ku6 website's Zhang Xiaojing to ask me for the telephone numbers of the two Zhong sisters.  The Ku6 website chief editor Chen Feng was the reporter who wrote the story about the death Sun Zhigang for <Southern Metropolis Daily>. Zhang Xiaofeng is a veteran television reporter with a lot of audio-visual interviewing experience.  I gave her the telephone numbers of the Zhong sisters.

At 9am or so, the Beijing Ku6 website connected with Zhong Rujiu.  From that moment, the lowered voices of the Zhong sisters explaining how they are being besieged in a women's restroom was broadcast.  Two hours later, this audio recording was posted on the Internet.  As Zhong Rucui wept and said: "They are scary.  They are no different from bandits."

Due to the immediacy of microblogging, hundreds of millions of netizens can feel as if they were at the scene.  The Internet opened the way.  Netizens forwarded the microblog posts.  They even flooded text messages to the mobile phones of Yihuang county Communist Party secretary Qiu Jianguo.

The QQ microblog put the "women's restroom gate" story at the airport onto the front page of their microblog home page.

At 10am, <Southern Metropolis Daily> reporter Zhang Guodong arrived at the scene.  The Zhong sisters finally managed to exit the toilet partitions that they had hidden in for more than 40 minutes.  Outside, there were still two Yihuang county government workers keeping post.

At 10:16, I posted my second last microblog post: "Changbei airport women's restroom siege broadcast number 8: Yihuang has seized the two women who are not allowed to depart.  With a forceful attack, the two Zhong sisters were taken out of the restrooms and placed under guard by the airport police station deputy director, a police officer, the Yihuang county deputy mayor Wen Bo and others.  They wanted to take the Zhong sisters down the airport police station.  The Zhong family members refused.  There was a stalemate.  The police told the Zhong's: "You are not allowed to fly anywhere today.  Not just Beijing, but anywhere else in the world."

So Beijing was out.  The Yihuang deputy mayor Liu Wenbo took the Zhong sisters to an airport teahouse to take a rest.  He said that he wanted to "have a talk."

The New Era Weekly reporter Liu Hongqiao arrived at the teahouse at this time, and took a photo of the distressed looks of the Zhong sisters.  This photo was widely circulated on that day.  Netizens gave it the title: <Chinese expression>.

Finally, the Zhong sisters agreed with Liu's proposal: On the morning of the next day, they will meet with a Wuzhou city deputy mayor in the presence of the media.

So the Internet microblogging came to a stop.  For the media, the entire story of the Yihuang incident has changed.

At 11am or so, I went downstairs and called for a car to return to the television station office.  My mobile phone does not have Internet access, so I have no idea what those live blog posts were doing.  About an hour later, I passed by the International Building and a worker's call.  He told me that microblog is coming under tremendous pressure: the relevant department had explicitly asked for the deletions of my live broadcasts.

I thought that I had already completed my posts.  Mission accomplished.  The deletions did not matter anymore.  And I cannot change the decision to delete.

Afterwards, another



At 12:30pm, the Zhong sisters left the airport by car to return to Nanchang city which they can tried to escape from eariler this morning.  When they got back to the hotel, the exhausted Zhong sisters flopped into the beds and fell asleep.

When I went back to the office, my colleague Tian Lu had organized the live microblog posts into a document which was posted at the Tianya Forum, KDNet, MOP and other forums.  At the office, I was interviewed by <Chengdu TV>, <New Express> newspaper in Guangzhou and <Modern Express> in Nanjing by telephone.

Phoenix TV had already interviewed the Zhong brothers (Zhong Rucui and Zhong Rutian) who arrived in Beijing this morning.  Via live broadcast, Zhong Rucui was also interviewed.  With maximum speed, the editors came up with a special issue on this incident.

On the afternoon of September 16, <Southern Weekend> reporter Zhou Peng arrived in Nanchang.  <Guangzhou Daily>, <New Express>, <Dongguan Times>, <Modern Times> and other media outlets reached the Zhong sisters by telephone and let them recount the horrifying episode at the Changbei airport terminal in Nanchang city.

The microblog live broadcast turned a simple self-immolation incident into a public affair that has the attention of everybody.  On the evening of September 16, <Chengdu TV> broadcast the "Women's Restroom Gate" on their problem <30 Minutes of Truth>.  At 21:55, Phoenix TV aired its program segment.

Zhong Rujiu went back to the hotel and went to sleep quickly.  She may not have imagined that this was the last time that she went to sleep as a commoner.  When she woke up, she had become the focal point of public attention in China, all because of microblogging.

(KDNet)  I am a government worker involved in the Yihuang incident, I think that public opinion has been unfair to us!  October 13, 2010.

Ever since the September 10 incident, we have maintained our silence under tremendous pressure.  We gave up all our leisure time to deal with the matter.  During this time, the media was lopsided in their support of the Zhong family and condemnation of us.  It is not that we did not have reason on our side, but he Communist Party discipline code required us to consider the overall good.  Now that the accountability has been completed, we want to tell what we think in our hearts!

Issue #1: Was the forced demolition/relocation legal?

Almost everything in the public opinion was against us because they don't think forced demolition/relocation should happen.  This included an authoritative newspaper which said: "The land/property laws were enacted several years ago, but in this county they still run into bulldozers."

We find this charge unacceptable!  We don't want to say that the media (including this authoritative newspaper) are ignorant of the law.  We are saying that they are saying this because they aren't personally affected!

First of all, the land/property laws states clearly that the state can reacquire the right to use land/property for purpose of public interests, urban planning and renewal.  The Yihuang bus station completes meets the requirements of public interests and urban planning.  Therefore, it was legally valid for the Yihuang government to reacquire the land use rights in the name of the state.

Secondly, we are fully family with the land/property laws.  We know that these laws are in conflict with the State Council's <Rules on Demolition/Relocation>.  But we are merely grassroots workers who examine the land/property laws and find nothing specific about implementation/operation (e.g. the compensation amount, etc).  We are trying to carrying out the <Rules on Demolition/Relocation> but the authoritative newspaper said that we were breaking the <Rules on Demolition/Relocation>!  Is this a case of them saying this because they aren't personally affected!  What do you think we grassroots workers should do?

Thirdly, we have negotiated with the Zhong family more than 50 times over the last 3 years.  We tried everything possible to reach an agreement without resorting to forced demolition/relocation.  Frankly, the Zhong family people are so plain and simple.  When the Zhong family moved from Anhui to Yihuang, there were three children.  Another six more children were born in Yihuang.  It was not that the government did not care (about the violation of family planning rules), but the matter was glossed over for many reasons (including the government being scared of the Zhong family).  A grassroots workers who earns 300 to 400 RMB per month has not reason to pick a fight with the Zhong family!

The conditions offered to the Zhong family this time were the best among all the affected families.  It exceed the standards that are set for Jiangxi province.  But the demands of the Zhong family were illegal and unreasonable.  The bus station is about to be completed, but not unless the Zhong family moves away.  You say that the government shouldn't apply for demolition/relocation?  So you want the bus station that the 200,000 plus residents wanted to become a bubble?  Must the county residents take the flat-bottom boat six months out of the year (due to persistent flooding) in order to get to the old bus station to take a journey?

The old Yihuang bus station

The old Yihuang bus station

A model of the new Yihuang bus station.  The location of the Zhong hosue is circled n red.

As previously mentioned, the demolition/relocation regulations states the government has the right to reacquire land rights.  The demolition/relocation regulations also states when the two sides cannot reach agreement, the government can decide on forced demolition/relocation.  We have made that decision in accordance with the law.  We informed the Zhong family that they can file an appeal in court within three months.  But the Zhong family neither moved out nor appealed.

In summary, we have acted strictly in accordance with the law in making the decision and carrying out the procedure.  We don't understand why public opinion and authoritative newspapers continue to condemn this legally valid demolition/relocation action?  It there are problems with the demolition/relocation regulations themselves, do you expect us grassroots government workers not to carry it out?

Issue #2: What happened at the scene of the incident

On the day of September 10, our demolition/relocation command center (meaning the workers from different departments who were sent to work on this project) sent fewer than 20 people to the Zhong family.  We sent 20 persons because the Zhong family had a history of refusal and resistance.  The Zhong family had plenty of family kind members.  If we sent too few people, they could be just expelled from the home; if we sent more people, the Zhong family won't engage in clashes so readily.

There were two mission goals.  First of all, we received a tip that the Zhong family concealed explosive petroleum gas in their home.  We worried that they might use the material to cause trouble.  The police were assigned to inspect and follow through.  Secondly, we wanted to continue to persuade the Zhong family.  We were not ready to demolish the building.  It was best that we could convince the Zhong family to relocate.  We made no preparations for a forced demolition.  We did not bring any bulldozers or trucks.  Later on, the media reporters verified this.

I don't want to say too much about what happened when we arrived at the Zhong house.  The photos posted on the Internet confirmed what happened.  I only want to add some points:

1. The Zhong family members never engaged in "self-immolation."  Based upon eyewitness testimony as well as viewing the photos (we were downstairs at the time and we could not see what was happening on the roof), Luo Zhifeng and Ye Zhongcheng poured gasoline on the roof and set off a fire.  Luo Zhifeng then stood about 30 centimeters away from the fire, shook the gasoline canister to pour more gasoline and wounded up setting herself on fire.  Ye Zhongcheng went over to help her and ended up getting immolated himself.  If Luo and Ye wanted to set themselves on fire, they did not need to set the roof on fire first.  They could have poured gasoline on their own bodies and get on with it.  Also, the Zhong family intended to not relocate unless we met their demands.  Setting the roof of fire is a way of forcing us to accede to their demands.  There is no reason why Luo and Ye should set the roof on fire (not even telling their own family members) without communicating any demands and then end up with themselves in flames in a matter of tens of seconds.

2. When the two persons were on fire on the roof, we were not even able to enter the front door of the Zhong house.  The emotionally excited Zhong family members wanted us to retreat and re-negotiate.  We retreated to the gas station next to their house.  Zhong Rujin then set sweaters on fire and threw them at us.  She poured more gasoline on the blazing sweater from upstairs.  We put out the fire.  Then Zhong Rujin suddenly found herself on fire and jumped off.  We determined at the scene tht she accidentally set herself on hire while pouring more gasoline downstairs.  Based upon what we saw when we helped Zhong Rujin and what we observed about the more than ten sweaters, Zhong Rujin did not pour gasoline on herself.  Instead, some gasoline had been spilled on her clothes and caught fire.  The photos confirm this point.

3. After Zhong Rujin caught fire and leapt down, our main goal was to provide emergency help.  Because we could not predict what the two Zhong family members might do, we kept them away from the burn victims.  But they went to the hospital in our vehicles.

4. There was the matter of confiscating the camera of Zhong Rujiu.  After the incident, the relevant department obviously needed to have it for the investigation.  Especially in a case in which people were injured, the police need to investigate and the videotape is a piece of evidence.  There was a physical clash when the police asked Zhong Rujiu to turn over the videotape.

5.  As for forced demolition, we did go there to demolish anything.  We brought the Zhong daughter-in-laws downstairs and we asked Zhong Rujiu to turn over the camera, which resulted in some slight physical clash.  All this can be seen on the photos and videotape.  We did not assault or abuse any Zhong family member.

6. The phrase "If you won't demolish/relocate today, you'll have no idea how you will die tomorrow" has continued to spread everywhere, giving us a lot of public opinion pressure. We don't know whether this was ever said or who said it.  But if someone did say it, then it is actually a huge misunderstand.  In Yihuang, this is a stock phrase.  The original phrase would be like "If you don't demolish/relocate now, will you die tomorrow."  Its actual meaning is "If you don't demolish/relocate now, will you be able to evade it in the future?"  Maybe the reporter did not understand the Yihuang dialect.  If there is an actual audio recording, the reporters should find a few Yihuang residents who were not involved in the case to explain.  They should not be letting only the Zhong family interpret for them

Issue #3: Things that happened afterwards

1. We have a lot of misgivings about this part.  It is the citizen's right to petition.  But petition cannot be done at will.  Do you think that anyone with grievance should head directly to Beijing?  Even overseas demonstrations require police permission for a certain time and location.

According the Articles 16 and 18 of the State Council Petition Regulations, the petitioner should be making the petition first to the Yihuang Petition Office of Wuzhou City Petition Office as opposed to Beijing or overseas media.  The petition location should not be the Beijing offices of the overseas media.

The Petition Regulations also states the relevant government departments workers ought to prevent illegal petitions.  That is to say, when we ask the Zhong sisters to petition at the Yihuang/Wuzhou Petition Offices first, we were carrying out the duties that we have under the regulations.  The government would be breaking the law if we did not prevent the Zhong sisters from making their legal petition!

The Zhong sisters were breaking the State Council Petition Regulations when they did not went to the Yihuang/Wuzhou Petition Offices first and tried instead to reach the relevant Beijing departments and/or overseas media.

When the Zhong sisters did not follow the law and petition first with the Yihuang or Wuzhou petition offices and went directly to the Beijing department or overseas media to petition, they had violated the State Council Petition Regulations.

As for the Zhong sisters entering the ladies' restroom, they went there after they got a telephone call on the way to the airport police station.  Even if they didn't go to the restroom and they continued to talk on the phone at the police station, it was never matter of us forcing them into the restroom.  Eventually, the Zhong sisters left the airport after we discussed and reached an agreement.  We did not forced them to leave the airport.

As for now, public opinion is lopsided against us.  Not a single media outlet would fairly explain that it was legal within the administrative regulations to stop this illegal petitioning.  Not a single media outlet would fairly state that the actions of the Zhong sisters violated the State Council Petition Regulations.  We cannot believe that so many media outlets don't now the state laws.  How come we get pilloried when we act in accordance with the law?  How come the Zhong sisters get media support when they break the law to petition?

2. Now we come to the matter of seizing the corpses.  After Ye Zhongcheng passed away, the hospital was supposed to sent the body directly to the funeral home.  But the Zhong family interfered, so the hospital called the county government to ask for assistance to send the corpse to the funeral home.  Legally speaking, Ye Zhongcheng is not a member of the Zhong family.  He was not a person who was being relocated.  As a person who died in an incident, his case should be investigated by the public security bureau.  Therefore, it was entire appropriate to sent his corpse to the funeral home for preservation.  Thus far, the Zhong family has already broken the law to appeal to higher authorities.  So we were worried that the Zhong family might move the corpse to some prominent location in Nancheng city to create a hugely negative event, especially we clearly felt that somebody was advising them from backstage!  According to Article 27 of the State Council Petition Regulations, the government should take appropriate measures to ban or eliminate incidents with huge negative impact.

Issue #4: Concerning the fundamental reasons which triggered this incident

After the incident, none of the public opinion comments addressed the fundamental reasons which triggered the incident.  We believe that the incident ought to be examined form two perspectives.

1. Were the legal rights of the Zhong family being violated?

According to relevant laws, regulations and rules of the state and Jiangxi province, there ware two ways to compensate for demolition/relocation: (1) money and (2) swapping.  The standards for money compensation is determined at the provincial level, which gave an assessment of just over 410,000 RMB.  The Zhong family found a lawyer to make an assessment and came up with more or less the same figure.  For the Zhong family, if they felt that 410,000 RMB was insufficient, they can easily swap for a new building unit which can be sold for 800,000 to 1,000,000 RMB.  Under the 2010 price standard, the Zhong family house would cost less than 250,000 RMB to build.

The Zhong family house sat on state land.  After the home swap, the Zhong family gets the right to use their new land.  There is no swapping fee and there is no term limit.  The key point is that the current Zhong family land is a compensatory allotment with neither rights nor term limit.  After swapping the land, the Zhong family land will be worth a whole lot more.  In other words, the Zhong family is benefiting from the value-added swapping.  This arrangement satisfied the legal requirements without damaging the legal rights of the Zhong family.

However, the Zhong family refused to accept all along.  In order to reach an agreement, the government offered the Zhong family the 3 apartment units of 390 square meters as well as an additional 360 square meter area on which they have the right to build a 3 storey building with 1,080 square meters of floor space.  In addition, the government considered that since some of the Zhong family members were receiving special insurance status because they had worked bankrupt agricultural entities, they allowed all 13 members of the Zhong family to receive special insurance.  Frankly speaking, these special favors went beyond what is allowed by the higher-ups and they are unfair to other relocated families.  But the government was forced to propose these measures in order to avoid forced demolition/relocation.

The State Council had issued an emergency notice to protect the legal rights of families that are being demolished/relocated by force.  But is this proposal really violating the legal rights of the Zhong family?  Everybody will decide for themselves.

2. Are the demands of the Zhong family reasonable and legal?

During the negotiation process, the Zhong family made different proposals at different times.  Ultimately, they wanted that they be like the gas station next to them and turn their residential house into commercial land.  We don't want to comment on whether this demand is reasonable and legal.  We believe that everybody can judge accurately.

The media was completely uninterested in whether the legal rights of the Zhong family were violated and whether the demands of the Zhong family were reasonable and legal.  The media only emphasized that the legal rights of the Zhong family must not be violated.  But were the legal rights of the Zhong family violated?  The media only condemned the government for not acceding to the demands of the Zhong family, but are their demands legal and reasonable.

Here are some photos from the Yihuang Forum.  You make your own judgment.

A section of the roof is already on fire.
The woman Luo Zhifeng holds a plastic bottle of gasoline in hand.  Her body is not in flames.
There is a discarded gasoline bottle next to her feet.
The man Ye Zhongcheng is topless and holding nothing in his hands.

Zhong Rujin threw down blankets/clothes on fire from the first floor.
There are no other signs of gasoline on the building wall.

From the first floor, Zhong Rujiu is filming with a videocamera.
Zhong Rujin continues to pour gasoline downstairs.
There is still no sign of gasoline on the wall.
The fire on the blanket/clothes has been put out, but fumes are still rising.

Zhong Rujin found herself on fire while pour gasoline downstairs.
The building wall now shows clear signs of burned gasoline marks.
Zhong Rujiu has moved over to another window to continue filming.

Here is a photo of the Zhong family house. 
Did you notice the iron pipe at the top of the photo?
Where did this come from?
Oh, all these photos were taken from a construction site across the Zhong family house.
Who was the photographer?
Nobody knows.  The media got more than 100 photos but they won't say who took them.
How did the photographer happen to enter a construction site, got on a higher floor and took photos with a professional camera?  Was it all chance?  Or was it pre-arranged? 
Nobody knows (unless the media starts explaining).

Would you get upset with people setting rooftops, blankets and clothes on fire?
Take a look at this photo from the series of more than 100 photos in the possession of the media.
Do you see the gasoline truck right next to the building?
What if that caught fire?
What do you think the damage would be to the building and everybody around it?
Does anyone care?

(New Century Weekly)  There Is No New China Without Forced Demolition.  October 12, 2010.

A simple case of government-directed forced demolition became a national public affair when some of the principals in the case set themselves on fire accidentally.  This also catapulted a previously unknown small county in southern China into national fame.  At present, things are calm.  The burn victims are receiving medical care, the individuals in charge of the demolition have been sanctioned and the government is making progress.  Yihuang county is like a ship that ran aground in a storm and is now finally continuing its journey.  This incident has proved to be a heavy blow to the urbanization process in Yihuang, such that it will take some time for things to recover to the day when the incident took place.

On September 10, the Yihuang county government set out to demolish a house by force in order to make way for the new bus terminal.  During the process, carelessness caused three residents to suffer burns.  The demolition was halted.  The burn victims were treated at the county hospital, and later transferred to the Provincial Number One Auxiliary Hospital for better medical care.  On the day after the incident, several photos of the immolations were posted on the Internet.  In turn, these photos were carried by many websites and print media, drawing a high degree of attention from people all over the nation.

At first, only the online media followed the story.  Several days later, the mainstream media entered the fray and raised the stakes.  Quickly this became a national public incident which drew the attention of the city, province and central governments.  On September 16, the county party leader went to the airport to assuage the family of the burnt victims and asked them not to travel to Beijing to petition, preferring to solve the problem locally.  On September 17, the burn victim Ye Zhongcheng passed away and his body was taken back to Yihuang.  On the same day, repercussions were felt in Yihuang, as eight government/party officials were sanctioned, with the Communist Party secretary and the county mayor being placed under investigation.  From September 18 on, the city/province investigative teams came to work in Yihuang.  On October 10, county party secretary Qiu Jianguo and county mayor Su Jianguo were relieved of their duties.  On the same day, their replacements arrived.  These severe sanctions can be said to be unprecedented in the history of the nation.

There is no question that this affair has been tremendously negative to Yihuang.  The major county leaders had to face tremendous public opinion pressure.  All urban construction and trade promotion work have effectively grounded to a halt.  The major county leaders are spending their efforts on "putting out the fire" and "cleaning up."  Many cadres are demoralized in the face of the public comments.  Many people are worried that Yihuang's progress may be pushed back five years because urbanization and industrialization have come to a halt.

The reason why the Yihuang demolition incident became a major public incident was due to the intercession of the media, especially the Internet media.  From the beginning, the entire process was followed by reporters who posted the information onto the Internet.  The government is supposed to be be monitored by watchdog journalism.  The public can understand the truth when reporters provide fair and objective coverage.  But in the reporting of this incident, some reporters may not have adhered to the principles of fairness and objectivity.  When the incident became known on the Internet, public opinion was lopsided in condemnation of the local government and the policy of demolition by force and in support of the injured principals.  This is not wrong, but the media should have held a neutral position and consider the causes and effects of the incident, including the specific circumstances at the time.  Given the highly charged issue of forced demolitions in China, it was essential to report calmly, objectively and in-depth.

Certain news reports were clearly inconsistent with the facts of the matter, including plenty of subjective speculations on the part of the reporters.  In order to achieve the desired effects, certain reporters used their vivid imagination to select and edit the raw materials in order satisfy their intent.  For example, when the principal threw a flaming blanket out of a window, they declared that a human being jumped out of the building in a fireball.  For example, the county party secretary went to the airport in order to comfort the principals and asked them not to petition, it became a case of interception.  When the principal went to use the restroom, it became the "siege of the restroom" and "live broadcast conversation," implying that the county party secretary was violating human rights.  Someone analyzed the photos on the Internet carefully and determined that these high-resolution photos were not amateurish products taken opportunistically.  As a result, some people suggest that this demolition/immolation incident was plotted by certain individuals (who did not plan on inflicting the burns on the principals) and the government got trapped.  I do not necessarily agree with this thesis.  But certain people around the Zhong family (including the reporters) are not so simplistic and they are not necessarily all benevolent persons who seek justice.  Did these people cause the Zhong family tragedy?  Apart from "helping the weak fight against the strong," do they have ulterior motives?  I dare not speculate.

This incident was presented by novel-writing techniques into a sensational social incident.  This is the so-called "new journalism" of the 1960's in the western world in which journalism is combined with fictional writing techniques and imagination.

Obviously, certain reporters pandered and exploited certain mindsets among the public in order to steer attention in the direction that they wanted to go.  At a time when our political system and social structure are going through transitions, many people harbor more or less discontent with society/government over the clashes and conflicts of interest as manifested in the inequality of wealth and other phenomena.  In the absence of other means of catharsis, people lash out at these negative incidents.  Many people have the noble desire to sympathize with the weak, to bring down the strong and to carry out justice.  This desire is usually unrealizable in real life due to various pressures, but it is much easier to realize in the virtual world because there are no risks.  Of course, this is not necessarily wrong.

It is for this reason that negative stories about the government often capture eyeballs rapidly.  Internet users react and respond strongly.  Actually, for many Internet users, they don't necessarily care too much about the rights and wrongs of the incident as such.  After all, they have neither the means nor the need to get to the bottom of the truth.  They get involved only because this was an occasion to let off emotional steam.

The reason why negative incidents brew rapidly is that trust in the government is low.  People would rather believe in what the weaker side asserts, even if the assertions are full of holes.  People would rather not believe in what the government says, even if it is sound and reasonable.

Today the net result of this affair is that even as people heap praises upon watchdog journalism, people are somewhat uneasy about the sense that "the mighty pen can kill," especially in the Internet era.  From one angle, this incident showed that the grassroots victoriously defended their rights and magnified the incident so that the corresponding government/party leaders got sanctioned.  But from other angle, this was less a victory for the Zhong family than a victory for the reporters and Internet democracy.  Internet democracy is clearly a huge step forward for society, but it is a double-edged sword whose other edge can harm if used improperly.

In recent years, Yihuang county has made a lot of progress.  Over the course of just a few years, a new city has emerged.  Those who live there feel no different from the other developed areas along the coast.  Those who have known Yihuang before and now must think that they are living in a dream.  These new industrial parks now form the economic basis of the county, especially in the plastic materials industry which is significant in our province, even in China.  For several thousand years before, this small county in the mountainous region had depended on traditional forms of agriculture.  But all this has changed in a history-making manner.  According to the economic statistics, the 2009 GDP of Yihuang county was 2.151 billion yuan, which was 2.12 time that in 2005; the government revenues was 253 million yuan, which was 4.36 times that in 2005; the value added industrial output was 700 million yuan, which was 6.19 times that in 2005; the total urban fixed asset investment was 2.4 billion yuan, which was 4.85 times that of 2005.

The last five years of Yihuang has seen more changes than the previous ten years.  The last ten years of Yihuang saw more changes than the previous twenty years.  The changes in the development of Yihuang reflects the changes in the development of Jiangxi province and even all of China.  The development of Yihuang is the epitome of the industrialization and urbanization of China.  It is an example of how the central and western regions of China can catch up and surpass the coastal regions.  Being in Yihuang ourselves, we can feel the pulse of development in our era, we can hear the sound of the loud footsteps of our nation joining the rest of the world!

The way development has changed in Yihuang in recent years has plenty to do with the county leaders spending their efforts and the masses making their contributions.  Although certain leaders may have been too hasty in looking for visible projects, Yihuang must be said to be progressing rapidly objectively speaking.  County party secretary Qiu Jianguo is experience, capable and ambitious.  He is an exceptional leader.  His five year tenure in Yihuang county is also the period when Yihuang developed the fastest.  Frankly speaking, this individual served a key role in making Yihuang standout in the entire province for its rapid development.  Several years ago when it was rumored that Qiu Jianguo was going to be transferred elsewhere, many veteran cadres ran a signature campaign to keep him in Yihuang.

Of course, the work of Yihuang county is by no means perfect.  Certain cadres and workers are critical about the indifference of the leaders towards the grassroots works (especially their low pay), the extravagant expense accounts in certain departments, the abuse of power by certain leaders, the necessity of paying bribes to get a job promotion, the wasteful public construction projects (such as the "One Big and Four Small Projects") and the questionable injection of huge amounts of capital investment into the new city district.

Forced demolition is not what the local government wants to do.  There is a key question here about the cost of development.  The less developed areas in the middle and western parts of the country are at least 20 years behind the coastal areas in terms of development.  The areas in the middle and western regions are impoverished, and are constantly plagued by the problems of not enough officials, workers and money.  They are constantly faced with the choice between "feeding mouths" and "constructing."  Urbanization requires massive demolitions.  If the demands of the relocated families have to be met by raising the compensation levels, the local governments won't be able to afford it.  At the same time, the high land/housing prices make the peasants dream that they can be millionaires overnight when the government requisition their lands.  Under these circumstances, it would be sheer fantasy to think that the relocated families and the government can reach consensus.  Thus, it becomes normal to see relocated families petition to higher authorities.  In order to carry out their strategies for development, the local governments have to resort to demolitions by force.  To put it in another way, they are forced to do so unless they want to forget about development altogether.

The compensation standards for Yihuang county are not necessarily low, especially in recent years.  Compared to Linchuan and other neighboring areas, the compensation is far higher than the market average.  Actually, the relocated families are the biggest beneficiaries of urban construction.  If the government does not develop, then your land and house cannot be worth that much.  Unfortunately, greed has no bounds in our society and nobody wants to be content.  As the ancients say, "People's greed are like a snake which can swallow an elephant"!

It is certain that demolition by force often results in trouble.  But the government cannot forsake development just because trouble may occur.  What remains is whether the trouble is going to be big or small.  If there is big trouble, can it be contained?  That depends on luck.  In the case of the Yihuang incident, the government officials were overly optimistic because they were successful in previous instances and therefore they underestimated what could happen with the Zhong family.  In addition, they were negligent in how they dealt with the incident.  At the same time, the dissatisfaction against forced demolitions coalesce together in this instance in a huge negative force (especially with the participation of the news reporters) which they did not pay enough attention to at first.  While this incident took place in Yihuang, forced demolitions occur all over China.  From a certain angle, it is hard to say whether the Yihuang incident was a scapegoat for the problems that occur during the urbanization of China.  This does not that those who handled the cases did wrong, because the higher-ups had to set an example in the face of the vast resentment against forced demolitions and the large number of rights defense incidents by farmers against land requisition.

At a time when everybody is condemning the policy of demolitions by force, it seems that everybody is overlooking a basic fact: Every person is a beneficiary of the police of demolitions by force.  As you rest in your spacious, comfortable home or walk down the bright and wide streets, or when the reporters write their condemnatory article in the luxury hotel rooms, did you imagine that this was possible only because the government procured the land by forced demotion?  To a certain extent, China could not be urbanized without forced demolitions.  And without urbanization, there could not be a "sparkling new China."  So does this mean that we can say that the "New China" could not have come about but for the forced demolitions?

If the local governments in China were situated in the western world, they can be an inactive body acting as night watchmen.  The local government officials will just be easy-going people who do not actively intervene in the economy.  In order words, they don't have to carry out demolitions by force.  But this is not possible in China, because China is a belated developing country.  In order to bring out a renaissance to catch up to the western countries, the government necessarily and naturally has to play an active role.  In truth, we have seen that the notion of active governance has been highly successful.  But this notion of an active government is a double-edged sword.  If it goes too far in one direction, it may decrease the function of the market, squeeze the social space and suppress individual rights.

People often compare China with India in terms of economic development.  India is far behind China for many reasons, but an major reason is that the Indian government cannot control the economic and social resources (including land requisition) as well as China does.  Superficially, this seems to be a good thing because individual rights are protected to the maximum.  In truth, this is hurting the interests of the majority of the population, including harming individual rights over the long term.  Of course, this is not the only way to say which country is superior/inferior.

It would be wrong to either overestimate or underestimate the awareness of the peasants, because that would be a subjective error (that is, your belief is not matched by reality).  If you support each and every single demand from any peasant, you may seem to hold the moral high ground but this is no help to solving practical problems.  In the end, you are only hurting their fundamental interests.  Chairman Mao Zedong once said: "The serious problem is to educate the peasants."

It is essential to administer in accordance with the law.  But it would be a fundamentalist mistake to mechanically invoke the law all the time.  The law does not always function and there are many problems such as "the departmentalization of the public interest," "the legalization of departmental interests," how the lawmakers can set themselves over and/or apart from the public, etc.  In the past, we have the same reflections when we discuss the Three Peasant Problems.  Fortunately at the time, the Chinese law was not completely implemented because the rural villages would have been condemned!  This may be a biased opinion, but it is not unreasonable.

"Ruling the nation by morality" is the key point.  This is written into the Party Constitution, but it is not so easy to realize.  The problems include the loss of the the excellent traditional culture of public servants.  The tradition had put away for 80 years, leading to the present stage when social morality is down in the doldrums, officials have no sense of ethics and the citizens have no civic beatitudes.  When the citizens and the government officials do not communicate with or trust each other, there is no point to even talk about laws and policies.  These ideological problems need to be resolved in order to restore the excellent traditional culture, but that is not easy even though "highlighting the excellent cultural traditional of the Chinese people" is written into the Communist Party Constitution.

Basically, China is still a nation based upon "rule by persons" (as opposed to "rule by law").  Very few people seek administrative review or complaint; instead they visit petition offices.  We carefully crafted for the citizens a weapon to defend themselves -- the law -- but the people disregard it and choose to petition (especially to a higher level of government) because this is the only way to achieve results.  What is the difference between this versus the citizen stopping the sedan of a senior government official in ancient times?  I am reminded of a classical sayings: "The government is a reflection of its people.  (In other words, the people deserve the government that they get.)"

The Yihuang demolition/immolation incident will blow over eventually.  As long as development is required and urbanization is not halted, forced demolition will continue to take place.  Local governments elsewhere will hopefully draw the lesson from this incident and prevent occurrences of similar incidents elsewhere.  Hopefully, future forced demolitions will be better regulated, with an emphasis on protecting the rights of the persons affected.  Yihuang belongs to the people of Yihuang.  Hopefully the people of Yihuang will come together and support the various government projects.

(People's Daily)   The Thought-Provoking Theory On Forced Demolitions.  By Fan Zhengwei.  October 14, 2010.

Recently there was an extraordinary essay entitled <Analyzing the forced demolition/self-immolation incident in Yihuang county, Jiangxi province>.  The essay expressed the idea that "forced demolitions are inevitable" and that "strict adherence to the law is a fundamentalist error."  There was also the astonishing assertion that "there would not be a New China without "forced demolitions."

"There is no urbanization in China without forced demolitions," "Actually everyone benefits from the policy of forced demolitions"  ... this misleading expressions can be found all over the essay.  This is akin to the letter from a certain legal system office director to a Peking University professor in opposition to the new demolition/relocation laws.  It is easy to see that this kind of logic is popular among certain grassroots cadres, and the many forced demolition incidents did not occur accidentally.

During the course of urbanization in China, old buildings will inevitably be demolished to make way for new buildings.  But when "demolitions" are "forced," it is wrong and does not help future urban development.  Relocations/demolitions are acceptable if the public interests are protected via adequate compensations.  But when someone stipulates that "there is no urbanization without forced demolitions" as the definition of the public interests and threatens "that if you obstruct development for a while, I will obstruct you all your life", then that person knows nothing about what the public interests are.

We ought to respect the desire for certain local cadres to seek development.  We can appreciate the pressure that they face and the misunderstanding and misgivings that they come across.  But none of this is enough reason to justify the view that "forced demolitions are essential for development."

The Central Government stated clearly that, "Development is made for the people, Development depends on the people and the fruits of Development are to be enjoyed by the people."  In assessing development, many local cadres emphasize on the size and look of urbanization projects instead of the raising of standards of living and the protection of legal rights.  The latter is not just merely the ultimate purpose of development, but it is also the guarantee and impetus for robust and sustainable development.  Any development that is done for the sake of "development" only, that ignores or even contradicts the interests and will of the people and that can "requisition" civil rights, social justice and media supervision is a perverted form of development.

As long as there is development, there will be questions about conflicts of interests.  During a demolition/relocation, the government, the residents and the real estate developers have their own demands.  That is normal.  When these demands clash with each other, it is normal in countries having the rule of law to have the differences resolved in a court of law.  Yet, it is true that "the law does not always work automatically and "it would be a fundamentalist mistake to mechanically invoke the law all the time."  In many relocation/demolition incidents, many local governments regard the administrative laws as obstacles, and "break the law with good intentions" because they want to "act quicker and cheaper."

Thus, this author is sad that "people were unwilling to believe the explanation from the government, no matter how reasonable and sensible it may be."  But even as we wonder why the people discard the carefully crafted laws, we ought to reflect on what we think about the laws.  When certain local cadres suspend the law in the name of pragmatism, why would the people have faith in the laws and seek legal recourse?  How can the administrative laws gain trust and authority among the public?

"As long as development is required and urbanization is not halted, forced demolition will continue to take place."  Correct, economic development and urbanization will not stop in China.  But "forced demolition" is clearly the wrong prescription.  We ought to seriously learn the main point of scientific development and harmonious society -- all developments is done for the sake of the happiness and dignity of the people.  Social justice and fairness must be upheld.  The legal rights of the people must not be harmed.

(KDnet)  October 16, 2010.

When I first made the post <I am a government worker involved in the Yihuang incident, I think that public opinion has been unfair to us!>, I was not speaking for any government department.  Instead, this only represents what I and some colleagues think.  As a citizen whose legal rights have not been taken away, I am qualified to explain certain things that we are knowledgeable about.  I was not directed to do so by any department or individual.  I disagree with the claim that my post violated the agreement not to address the issue of the Zhong family house until the medical treatment for the Zhong family members is done.  Does this mean that only the biased views against the Yihuang government are allowed to proliferate on the Internet?  Isn't depriving the people of their right to know the truth in full?

Here are some clarifications.

Issue #1. Was the September 10 inspection of the Zhong family house legal?

According to the <People's Republic of China Fire Prevention Laws> and the relevant police regulations on inflammable materials, a civilian house must not be used to store inflammable materials (especially when the house is inhabited by people).

There was a report that the Zhong family house contained inflammable/explosive materials.  The information is confirmed by checking with the gas station next door.  At the scene, the Zhong family also admitted that they kept inflammable/explosive materials inside their house.  Under these circumstances, if the police failed to inspect and dispose of these inflammable/explosive materials, they would be derelict in their duties.  Please pay attention to the fact that there is a gas station right next to the Zhong family house.  The inflammable/explosive materials pose a threat not just to the Zhong family members, but also to the gas station next door (and the public in general).  When the Zhong family members set off fires, they were endangering the gas station.

Issue #2. At the time, did the Zhong family break the law?

At the end of 2009, the government made the decision for forced demolition/relocation of the Zhong house.  The Zhong family was informed that they may appeal the decision within the next three months.  Our understanding was that the Zhong family did not file any appeal.  Did they appeal?  Did the court accept the case?  The Zhong family can produce the relevant legal documents to clarify.

The government asked the Zhong family to move our December 8, 2009 or file an appeal to the court within three months.  The Zhong family did not oblige the request and they did not appeal.  It is their right to appeal, but it is also their duty to oblige.  From this viewpoint, was the Zhong family breaking the law when they failed to carry out the government's decision which was made in accordance with the law?

As for the Zhong family members tossing flaming objects and pouring gasoline at the government workers plus setting off fires next to a gas station, you can decide yourself whether this is breaking the law.

Issue #3.  Did the county party secretary intercepted the petitions?

Those people who were familiar with the situation all thought that the reporters were unfair and subjective.

The reason that the party secretary went to the airport was that he wanted to dissuade the Zhong sisters from going to petition in Beijing.  As party secretary, he can immediately make any decision with respect to their demands.  If anyone else went, that other person does not have the authority to make decision.  Even if that other person made promises, the Zhong sisters may not trust him.  The presence of the party secretary showed that the government/party is sincerely interested in solving the problems.  The party secretary spoke to the Zhong sisters for more than an hour inside the airport police station.  He wanted the Zhong sisters to petition in accordance with the procedures instead of going directly to Beijing.

But in the words of some reporters, this became "The party secretary personally led his people to intercept the petitioners."  In truth, if the party secretary wanted to intercept the petitioners, he did not have to go there in person.  All he had to do was issue an order to his subordinates.