On Tuesday I reported briefly on Shaanxi’s plan to relocate 2.7 million residents from the northern and southern parts of the province. The local gov’t reported that this was a major push to help break the cycle of poverty that has been effecting those regions for generations. They also cited the fact that both areas are prone to disasters, and so this project would help save lives.
I wasn’t so optimistic about the project, and wondered when exactly we would find out the real motivation behind it.
Today as I was combing through the part of the People’s Daily I realized they had yet again buried the lead.
The headline is “Shaanxi plans to move 2.7 million to safer areas“, and the first page of the article is the same optimistic fluff that I reported on Tuesday. The second page though broke the real story – Mining companies are funding the project.
Why would they spend nearly 2 billion RMB to help “rescue” people from poverty-stricken areas?
“The two areas’ total resources are worth more than 42 trillion yuan – one third of the national total – according to the provincial government website.” – quoted from People’s daily
Even within the story local people say that they are suspicious of the plan,
““It’s not difficult to imagine that these companies have some secret deal with the provincial government for their own interests in the region,” Dong Miao, a resident of the city of Yulin in the north of the province, told the Global Times.”
So now you can see why I am at times a bit pessimistic when I read the Chinese news papers. Now that we know there are billions of RMB involved in this project, we can also assume that later there will be stories of forced demolitions, corruption, mine collapses, and protests from farmers saying they didn’t receive enough compensation.
Hopefully this story will gain traction with Chinese netizens, who are the only ones who would be able to stop this project.
Generally speaking when enough people complain quickly about a problem like this the national gov’t will take action. What usually happens though is the censors block the story before it becomes widely known, in which case it becomes a sensitive topic, officially off limits for discussion.
I will continues following this story over the next few months and we’ll see what happens.