The recent Yihuang self-immolation case, in which three citizens set in Jiangxi province set fire to themselves to protest the forced demolition of their home to make room for a development project, drew the anger of Chinese across the country. But just as the affair was ushered into the past this week, a local official from Yihuang wrote a letter to a well-known web portal expressing his own views on the controversial issue of demolition and removal (拆迁). He wrote: “To a definite degree, without forced demolition and removal urbanization could not progress in China, and without urbanization there would not be one after another ‘brand new China.’ So can we not say from this that without forced demolition and removal there would be no ‘New China’?” The official’s remarks have sparked a debate about the general mentality of local officials in China on the issue of development, and whether the cruelty of forced demolition, a major source of social discontent, is really necessary. In this cartoon, posted by artist Zhang Xianda (张贤达) to his QQ blog, an official, identified by his imperial-style official’s cap, stands atop a home with a scythe like the figure of Death. A green banner flowing out from the scythe reads: “Without forced demolition there can be no New China.” The familiar red character for “demolish,” chai (拆), drawn in a red circle, drips like fresh blood.

David Bandurski

CMP Director

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