Jul 05

Heads roll (figuratively) in the Weng’An riot aftermath

Written by DJ on Saturday, July 5th, 2008 at 5:39 am
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David Peng made a prediction in his blog An Anachronist’s Life on July 1st, thee days after the Weng’An riot:

… I predict, the “Hu Jintao style” government response [which emphasises on proactive reporting the news and guiding the public discussion/opinion in order to restore/maintain stability] is going to be followed by acts in the “organizing department style” , that the entire local leadership team is going to be summarily dismissed.

He was right. The following is a translation of an article titled “Party secretary and head commisioner of Weng’An county both dismissed”, coming from the Xinhua Net.

Guizhou provincial government continues pursuing officials responsible for the June 28th Weng’An incident. Authorities at various levels have decided on July 4th to dismiss Weng’An county party secretary, Wang Qin, and head commisioner, Wang Haiping, from their positions. [Note: these are the top 1 and 2 positions at the county level.]

… [Further details of the dismissals as well as the replacement personales are laid out.]

Before this, the political commissar, Luo Laiping, and party secretary and chief, Shen Guirong, of the Weng’An county public security bureau were both dismissed as well. The replacement commissar and chief already assumed command on July 4th.

Party secretary of Guizhou province, Shi Zongyuan, pointed out in a recently convened update meeting: the direct trigger of the incident was a dispute over the nature of a young girl’s death; However, the root cause went much deeper and broader: the interests of the common folks were frequently violated in the courses of local mineral resource development, population resettlement, and rebuilding. In responding to those conflicts, some officials exhibited rough attitude, utilized crude methods and even abused the law enforcement power. As such, the failures by the leadership team at the county level and relevant departments can not be excused.

It’s also interesting to point out the suit of other related articles published at the Xinhua Net. They generally demonstrate an attempt at openly reporting the cause and facts of the Weng’An riot without evasiveness. The titles are translated and listed blow:

  • Guizhou province party secretary criticize Weng’An county party secretary: he is only looking for excuses
  • Guizhou province party vice secretary: Weng’An incident exposes long accumulated conflicts in the area
  • Guizhou responds to rumors: no relatives of officials involved in the incident
  • Guizhou officials analyze the cause of the incicent in depth: some folks have long held grievances
  • Root cause for Weng’An incident: some officials are unable to face the citizens

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10 Responses to “Heads roll (figuratively) in the Weng’An riot aftermath”

  1. Buxi Says:

    Wow, that’s beautiful. I had no idea the Chinese state media + central government would tackle the officials in Weng’an so directly. I was already satisfied with making an example of the officials responsible for police work in the county… but to see it extended into such a broad criticism.

    I love it. This is completely new territory they’re on, new precedent since probably the mid ’80s.

  2. pug_ster Says:

    I agree. I believe that China can take some kind of constructive criticism without losing face.

  3. nanheyangrouchuan Says:

    Beijing will always have to walk a tight line with local officials because they are also the ones who keep a lid on anti-Beijing activities.

    But this is good news.

  4. MutantJedi Says:

    Yes, I’m very encouraged by how this story played out and by how quickly the events unfolded. One of my biggest concerns would be that consideration for the games would short-circuit the actions that needed to be taken. It seems that, in the end, the state media was more concerned about saving face for the sake of the games than officials like Shi Zongyuan.

  5. Buxi Says:

    The Chinese press is now giving us more from Shi Zongyuan’s first day in Guizhou:


    Shi Zongyuan walked into the now burnt-out lobby of the public security building, the refuse on the ground was still emitting black smoke. Shi Zongyuan walked out from the cave-like lobby, and without a word left behind the entourage surrounding him, and walked into an adjacent massage parlor run by a blind person. He sat down, and started to chat with Mr. and Mrs. Lv Xiaoli.

    Shi: When the public security building burnt down, were you home? Were you scared?

    Lv: I was at home. I can’t see, so I was too afraid to go out. But I could hear the chaos outside, I was scared, and closed up early. Not many people are coming for massages now.

    Shi: Guizhou is so poor; the most important thing is security and unity, that’s the only way the economy can develop. Why did you decide to open your store here first? Is it because you would feel more secure next to the public security bureau? Do you still feel secure?

    Lv: (somewhat hesitantly) I don’t feel very safe living here. (She stops here; her husband has been tugging on her clothes.)

    Shi: I can understand why you’re watching your words; I won’t force you. Without security, without getting rid of organized crime, Weng’an can’t be safe. This is because our party and government hasn’t done its job well, that Weng’an isn’t safe, that the people don’t feel secure, that there are more and more bad people. Your buff guy (pointing at Lv’s husband) is too afraid too speak real words; good people are afraid of the bad. The party and government has a responsibility for this, and I offer my apology to you. We must learn from this and improve our work. Communist Party officials must consider how to serve the people above all else, instead of thinking all day about promotions and getting rich. For this incident, I feel a great deal of guilt towards all of the people of Weng’an. For this incident to happen, its only because conflicts have accumulated over a long time without being resolved.

    – One of Lv Xiaoli’s relatives, who has been working in Zhejiang (wealthy coastal province) is also in the store –

    Shi: How’s security in Weng’an?

    Answer: Weng’an is too chaotic. Even the public security buildings been burnt down.. how can there be security?

    Shi: What about Duxi (the prefectural capital)?

    Answer: About the same.

    Shi: What about Zhejiang?

    Answer: Zhejiang’s great. You know, we’re 40-50 years old, we’re not afraid of much. But we’re concerned for our kids. Every year a few kids are killed in Weng’an, and these cases are never solved. What do you think that says about security?

    Shi: What’s your name?

    Answer: I’m not going to say.

    Shi: You don’t trust me? You’re afraid of revenge?

    Answer: You, I trust. But you’re a big official living in the provincial capital, you can’t protect me every day. When you’re here, we’re all safe. But when you leave, who will we look to?

    Shi (tears in his eyes): Weng’an isn’t safe, and average citizens are afraid to say the truth. This is all our responsibility. (Turning his head) Where’s the county party secretary? Why are the people afraid to say the truth?

    Weng’an party secretary Wang: I’m here; I haven’t done a good job.

    Shi: How much do you make every month?

    Wang: 3000 RMB.

    Shi (asking Lv Xiaoli): How much do you make every month?

    Lv: We take in about 2000 RMB a month.

    Shi: After rent and utilities, how much is left?

    Lv: About 500-600 RMB.

    Shi: Create a party for justice, rule for the people… that can’t be something we just say, something we sing from the stage. We have to live up to it with our actions. If public security had done its job, would the people be afraid to speak the truth?

    Cui Yadong (provincial public security chief) cuts in: The provincial survey of the people’s sense of security, this place came in with 59%, last in the whole province.

    Shi: Of the five of you, how many feel secure? (None raised their hands) You rented a place next to the public security building, hoping this place would be secure… and now this doesn’t feel safe either.

    A woman close-by cuts in: In Weng’an, even if you killed someone, as long as you have money you can buy yourself out. The government should get to the bottom of this.

    Shi: As long as murderer has money, they can buy their way out… that’s straight talk. (Turning his head) Where’s the public security chief? Did you hear that? Children are killed and you can’t break the case; how can the people trust in you?

    This article also repeats the quote we first heard in the reporter’s blog in my previous entry; Shi Zongyuan emphatically called for officials responsible for public security in Weng’an “to be dismissed from class”.

  6. MutantJedi Says:

    Wow… How unique is Shi Zongyuan? I wonder what his future will be. Will this sort of reporting hurt him or help him?

  7. Buxi Says:


    I don’t think there’s much prospect for Shi Zongyuan to be promoted. He’s already 62, the same generation as Hu/Wen, and not likely to join the central leadership team.

    And unfortunately, there’s still a lot of criticisms of him on the Chinese internet. A lot of Chinese netizens are, exactly like I said in the previous thread, focused on the original state media’s version of what he said, which put the blame on the people. They think he’s merely reversing himself now because of public pressure. That is not correct, because the above conversation, since his critical comments were made on 6/30… they were just never made public.

    But I hope this sort of direct reporting of straight talk becomes typical. I can’t handle another similar report that says “the leadership have helped stabilize the emotions of the public.”

  8. Buxi Says:

    Some of these overseas Chinese dissidents really make me sick. Yang Jianli is very high on that list:


    The protest took place when the police of Weng An County released a suspect who had allegedly raped and murdered a teenage girl. It is believed that the suspect is a relative of a local police officer. The victim’s relative went to the police station demanding justice; instead he was badly beaten by police. This then led hundreds of thousands of people to the street. But the official crackdown on this lawful protest spurred tragic violence.

    Maybe he’s confusing his script for Weng’an with his script for Lhasa.

  9. ProudChinese Says:

    Seems like a decision from central government, and the common method for cadre-people conflict (官民矛盾) is no mercy to both sides, so rioters got punished and officials sacked, and one sure thing is that the jailed rioters will receive lenient treatment because they offered the replacing officials a higher position.

  10. Buxi Says:


    Really? The replacing officials have a higher position? I haven’t heard of this, can you explain?

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