Monday, June 04, 2007

China: 1.3 Billion, of whom 900 Million are Peasants

China is a huge country, and with its recent incorporation of capitalist market freedom, one would think that the only direction for their economy is up. But the path upward will be a torturous one, because 70% of the population is still living in an agrarian economy.

Just think about this. Nine hundred million peasants. This means that the other 400 million are carrying the weight of the industrial boom all by themselves -- not many more people than in the US. How is the Chinese government dealing with this dichotomy?

I have translated below an interesting review in a French website called of a book that was censured in China but that managed to circulate anyway, clandestinely, at a volume of millions of copies. The book is titled in French: Chinese Peasants Today, and the authors' names are Chen Guidi and Wu Chuntao. (See below for information about the Engliah translation.)

Here is the interesting review [my translation]:

"The Study. Today China has 900 million peasants. For Mao Tse-tung, this peasant class was supposed to be the spearhead of the revolution. It is, instead, the forgotten bystander of economic growth. After three years of research in a rural province west of Shanghai named Anhui, the two authors offer up the true portrait of hard Chinese reality: peasants who are overtaxed, victims of the corruption of local authority figures whose powers succeeded those of the old war lords. 'The sky is high and the emperor is far away,' decry the authors to describe the difficulties the peasants encounter in appealing to Beijing for help.

"Points of interest. Forbidden in China, millions of copies of this work were distributed clandestinely, before being translated into several languages. The authors use a style that is simple, sometimes almost naive, to turn their report into a cry of alarm: one day a peasant revolt could transform itself into a new revolution.

"The quote. 'The first three shovelfuls are for the government, because taxes must be paid in money and in kind; the next three are for the community leaders, the team and the production brigade, because their salaries must be paid; the next three, for the multitude of contributions, because their glasses of alcohol must be bought. And the last tenth is for me,' according to an old saying from the 1970s."

You can buy the American version of this work at Amazon at this page. The title is Will the Boat Sink the Water?: The Life of China's Peasants.

[Thanks to for the image.]

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Blogger Dave said...

Companies are ignoring this significant political risk in their rush to move a large percentage of their production to China.

10:16 AM  

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