Monday, June 25, 2007


More on the government-business nexus in China: David Barboza has a great piece on being held hostage by a toy factory boss, while police waited helplessly outside and local officials shuttled back and forth trying to arrive at a negotiated settlement for his release (see "My Time as a Hostage, and I’m a Business Reporter"). Then, there's the whole story of Yang Shukuan, the Tangshan City chairman of the board of the "Huayun Group," CPPCC member and crime boss, who was found to have "four armored vehicles, thirty eight guns, more than ten thousand bullets, and twelve tear gas grenades" and to have driven around the city's streets, sometimes shooting at policmen----all with utter impunity, at least until recently (see China Digital Times ).

It's a different world for human rights activists to confront than the old Soviet boogeyman or even the right-wing, free market dictatorships of Latin America.

And, in fairness, it's not such a different world from that prevailing in, well, much of the developing world, whether the country concerned is labeled "democratic" or "authoritarian."

In fact, stories like Yang Shukuan's--or the stories of countless small-town big shots in India, Pakistan or elsewhere--makes a mess of both of the above categories, with its fractured authority and a democracy that, persistently, erupts in bursts in the midst of all the chaos, a democracy that may be all the stronger for the inflexibility of the state.

1 comment:

Jody Ray Bennett said...

Dear Sir/Madame,

I am currently writing an article about the Tangshan Chinese mafia boss who has
recently been sentenced to life for assembling his own private army to
use for his own mafia-style operations. You can find the background
and facts of the story through the following links:

I am specifically interested if you could provide any insight on what
it "means" to assemble a private army in China, a place where it has
long been assumed the state has total control of arms possession and
thereby its own "monopoly of force". According to some of the reports
that I have researched, this sort of "gangster capitalism" is becoming
more and more a trend in many of the smaller cities in provincial
China. I am curious what exactly is happened, and if it is an emerging
threat to the Chinese state, what it implies about Chinese security
and control of its own force

If you might be able to offer a brief commentary or opinion on these
subjects, or if you might be able to point me in the direction of
where I might be able to locate some of this information, I would be
very appreciative. In the event that you offer your own analysis,
please include your name, title and/or how you would like to be
referenced in the article. My deadline is Wednesday, 19 November 2008.

Kind regards,
Jody Ray Bennett

International Relations and Security Network, Security Watch, Zurich
ISN Website:

Personal Contact: +31 (0) 633773051
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