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中国时间: 18:58 2016年12月04日星期日

何清涟: 乌坎事件获得软性解决的背景分析


编者按:这是何清涟为美国之音撰写的评论文章。这篇特约评论不代表美国之音的观点。转载者请注明来自美国之音或者VOA。

2011年的中国年尾,色彩似乎比去年年尾稍微亮一些:2010年的中国,浙江乐清寨桥村村长钱云会的惨死为中国画上一个黑色的句号;今年广东省汕尾市乌坎村村民用自己的韧性抗争为中国画上一个让国人稍感安慰的句号,尽管这种安慰还留有不少忧虑,比如秋后算帐;更有悬疑,比如作为事件起因的土地问题如何解决。

乌坎的抗议从今年9月持续到11月,对峙越演越烈。就在一星期前,广东地方当局的姿态还很强硬:逮捕了村民代表薛锦波等人,并致薛锦波狱中猝死;派出大量警察围村,并切断乌坎对外通讯联系,诬指乌村事件背后有境外敌对势力操纵。地方当局的升级处理方式,使乌坎成为世界关注目标,在关注者都为其捏把冷汗之时,到了12月21日,即村民宣布要分几路外出举行大规模公开抗议活动的前夕,当局罕见地做出一点妥协姿态,同意释放被扣押的村民代表并归还早先被警方逮捕期间死亡的村民代表薛锦波的遗体,乌坎村村民代表接受这些条件,表示暂停抗议游行,接受由政府派出的十人工作组来乌坎处理村民投诉的诸多问题,包括土地。与此同时,与乌坎同属潮汕地区的海附近爆发的另一场环境维权活动也获得当局允诺,暂停新电厂上马。

一些网友总结,这应当归功于乌坎村民抗争技巧水平提高,以及特有的韧劲,不轻易相信政府。这些因素当然都起了作用,如果不是乌坎村民持之以恒、张弛有度的韧性抗争,还有村民为之付出了生命 的代价,可能就不会有今天这一阶段性的结果。

但根据我对广东历年其他地区的抗争的分析,乌坎抗争的内部诸种元素在其他类似事件中也有。比如有网友总结说,这次利用宗法关系组织动员是个新因素,这可能出于其不太了解农村人民组织反抗,一直就是利用地缘、血缘与亲缘作为动员纽带。早在90年代末期,广东省的村级选举中,不少村子的村民就反对政府以各种形式指定村官候选人,争取不受政府控制的自主选举,几乎是广东省农村地区的政治生态。而引发抗争的原因主要是三类:征地、环境污染、以及与征地、办厂有关的村财务问题。总的来说,珠江三角洲地区经济发达,村民的经济独立能力强,对政府的依赖性也相对小。如果要实行乡村自治,广东省应该是最成熟的试验区。

可以说,广东省城乡历年各种反抗从来没断过,今年以外来工为主的增城事件中,广东省仍然是以大棒政策对应。应该说,导致广东地方当局在乌坎事件上做出一些让步,有一些今年上半年都还没出现的外部因素。这些外部因素概括言之,就是中共政权正面临1978年改革以来前所未有的困境,而且是内外交困。

外交方面,中国今年11月以来连连失利,目前正滑入被国际社会孤立的困境之中,不得不重拾韬光养晦之策,这点我已经在“北京的孤独”一文中说过,不再讲述。

至于内政方面,北京当前正面临1989年以后的又一次冲击。这一冲击来自两方面:一是与政府与宠大的社会底层矛盾空前激烈,许诺给民众的“面包契约”难以为继。社会反抗已经遍布全国,去年据说已逾18万起;二是精英阶层正在用自己的行动在表达他们对未来的担忧,他们用脚投票,大举移民外国,并把多年积攒的财产千方百计转移国外。在这一当口,国内任何社会冲突的爆发,都会加剧他们的恐惧,进而动摇社会对未来的信心。

对于广东行政长官汪洋来说,还有一重特殊考量。多年来,汪洋一直是被中共第四代领导层当作第五代备选成员,近两年以来,汪洋为了表示自己有足够的政治眼光与能力,一直持开明姿态,主张公民社会,放宽媒体管制等等,被视为与薄熙来的“左”竞争的一种政治主张。在离正式晋位只有十个月左右的时间内,以他本人意愿而言,是绝对不愿意看到治下发生以流血告终的群体性事件,因为在这节骨眼上,一着不慎,可能晋位无望。因此,尽管其辖下基层政府出于地方利益不想让步,但汪洋一定是力主下属软化矛盾。这种处置矛盾的方式也可能获得高层默许,因为在暴力维稳导致越维越不稳之时,当局也需要有地方大员尝试相对温和的柔性维稳,况且此时外事多艰,希望内部事端不要闹大。

从村民来说,在当局同意接受最低限度的条件后暂停反抗,也是明智的。当反抗持续了三个月之后,反抗者与地方政府都深感疲惫,希望有个台阶可下。汪洋的软处理为双方都搭建了一个台阶。对于村民来说,其实只有两个选择,一是暂时接受这条件,徐图下一步;二是继续抗争下去,直至暴力镇压。其中利害考较,只能由利益攸关的乌坎村民自己做出判断与选择了。

如同以往发生比较醒目的反抗时,不少人都希望该反抗能够成为专制倒下的第一块多米诺骨牌。这次乌坎事件的“中盘”成为这种状态,只能说中国目前条件还未完全成熟。突尼斯的条件成熟了,一个小贩的自焚可以烧掉独裁者的王座。什么事件才能成为民主化起点,其实与当事者本身意愿完全无关,全由其所处社会的时势决定。这次当局处理乌坎事件,其实只是满足了村民几个最低限度的要求,根本还未触及土地如何解决,国内顿时一片欢呼声。汪督的声望一下高过了薄督。这些现象说明中国还处在人们盼望开明专制的阶段,即突尼斯90年代初的水平,这不能说不是民意,至少是占主流的民意。

接下来还有几个问题:一、乌坎土地这个死结如何解开;二、解开了之后,其他地区是否照办;三、停征土地制度化。目前是房地产萧条时期,正是有条件实施停征土地的最佳时机。做到这几点,说明乌坎事件能够形成制度化反馈。如果做不到这些,最多就是将原来的金刚拳化作太极云手。

Background analysis of the soft solution to Wukan Incident

By He Qinglian on Dec 22, 2011
(translated by kRiZcPEc)

http://hqlenglish.blogspot.com/2011/12/wukan.html

This year is drawing to a close in China with colors brighter than the last: the tragic death of Qian Yunhui, chief of Zhaiqiao village, Leqing, Zhejiang in 2010 ended the year with sadness. This year, however, villagers at Wukan village, Shanwei, Guangdong marked the end of it with their persistent protests, an ending that made the Chinese people feel somewhat relieved. There are still something to worry about though. For example, retaliation from the government in future; and how the core issue that triggered this standoff—land sell would be solved remains to be seen.

Started in September, protests at Wukan village continued into [December], the confrontation between the two sides escalated as time passed by. Just a week earlier, the local authorities of Guangdong still took on a tough stance toward the villagers. They arrested villager representatives Xue Jinbo and others, causing Xue to die a sudden death during detention; and they sent massive police force to siege the village, cutting off Wukan’s communication channels with the outside world, and labeling the protests as a result of manipulation by hostile foreign forces. The way the local authorities stepped up their measures in dealing with the incident turned Wukan village into a target that attracted the world’s attention, making those who were concerned with the village deeply worried.

But on December 21, the eve of the day villagers announced that they would disperse into several files marching out of the village to stage large-scale public protests, the authorities made a rare concession gesture by agreeing to release the detained villager representatives and return the body of Xue Jinbo, the villager representative who died during police detention. Representatives of Wukan villagers accepted these offers, called off the march, and let a 10-person working group to get into the village to address the many issues villagers complained about, including land problems. Meanwhile at Haimen, another place within Chao-Shan region just like Wukan, an environmental protection movement broke out. The authorities there, too, agreed to public demand and promised to halt the launch of a new power plant.

Some netizens concluded that what Wukan villagers have achieved should be attributed to the improvement in the villagers’ fighting techniques, their uncommon perseverance and being skeptical of the government. These factors of course helped. If it wasn’t the villagers’ perseverance in their protests which was tough yet appropriate and that some died for what they fought for, today’s phased results might just not be possible.

Based on my analysis of protests in Guangdong over the years, I spotted in Wukan factors that could also be found in other similar incidents. For instance, the use of patriarchal organization and mobilization which, perhaps out of a lack of understanding of the fact that villagers in many villages had been using geographical and kinship ties to mobilize others when they organized protests, some saw as a new factor.

As early as the end of 1990s, at village elections in Guangdong Province, villagers in many villages opposed the government’s use of various means to designate candidates for village official posts. It had almost become the political norm in rural areas of Guangdong that villagers fought for autonomous election that was free of government control.

And the causes of protests are mainly of the following three categories: land acquisition, environmental pollution, and financial problems relating to land acquisition and setup of factories.

In general, the Pearl River Delta region has a developed economy, the populace there is highly capable of economic independence, and are relatively less dependent on the government. If village autonomy is to carried out, Guangdong Province should be the ideal pilot area.

Over the years there have been continual protests in urban and rural areas of Guangdong. Earlier this year, Guangdong province still used stick—instead of carrot—to handle the migrant-worker-dominated protest at Zengcheng. It should be said that the external factors which didn’t appear in the first half of the year were what prompted the local authorities of Guangdong to make concession to protesters at Wukan. These external factors, in sum, presented the CCP regime with the toughest of problems, both at home and abroad, so far since its reform in 1978.

Regarding foreign affairs, China suffered a string of setbacks since November this year, and is forced to adopt once again the “keep-a-low-profile” policy as it is slipping into the difficult situation of being isolated by the international community. I have gone through this topic in “Beijing as an Outcast” and would not repeat my arguments here.

And as for domestic governance, Beijing is currently facing another round of shocks since 1989. These shocks came from two directions: –

First, the government is locked in greater-than-ever conflicts with the bottom of society, the promise to offer the populace bread is getting harder to keep. Protests took place throughout the country, allegedly there were over 180 thousand counts of them last year.

Second, the elite class are expressing their worries with the future through the actions they took. A large number of them emigrated and relocated with every possible means the asset they had gathered over the years to other countries. At this juncture, any outbreak of domestic social unrest would intensify their fear which in turn shakes the confidence society has for the future.

For Guangdong chief executive Wang Yang, there is an extra factor to take into consideration apart from what is said above. For years Wang Yang has been chosen by the fourth generation of CCP leadership as a potential member of the fifth. To show he has the necessary political insight and the ability needed for that position, Wang has maintained an open gesture. An advocate for civil society, ease of control over the media and so on, Wang has been seen as a rival of “leftist” Bo Xilai. With just about ten months before he ascends to a higher position, Wang personally would absolutely want no mass rally to end in bloodshed. At this moment, one careless move and his chance of getting promoted would be gone. Therefore, even though local government officials are not willing to offer concession because of local interests, Wang Yang must have demanded them to soften the conflict. This way of addressing the conflict might have been silently permitted by top officials because, at the time when maintaining stability with violent means becomes less and less effective, the authorities need top local officials to try a comparatively softer approach. Moreover, at a time when being mired with tough issues abroad, they would hope incidents at home not to grow bigger.

From the standpoint of the villagers, it is wise of them to call off protests after the authorities accepted their minimum requests. After three months of demonstrations, both the villagers and the local government became deeply tired and wish to have an exit. The soft approach with which Wang Yang addressed the issue provided the two sides just that. For the villagers, they had only two options: either they temporarily agree with the offers and take their time to plan for future moves; or they keep fighting until there is a violent crackdown. Which is the better option to go for is something that only the villagers of Wukan, whose interests are at stake, can judge and decide for themselves.

Just like those eye-catching protests in the past, many have hoped that protests at Wukan could be the first domino triggering the fall of the dictatorship. This time the “majority” of Wukan protests came to a stage like this is evident that China is still not fully ready. Whereas in Tunisia, where the conditions were ripe, the self-immolation of a hawker could burn away the throne of a dictator. In fact, what kind of incident could become the starting point of democratization has completely nothing to do with the wishes of those involved. It depends entirely on the situation of the community which those involved are in. This time, the way the authorities handled Wukan incident has only met the minimum requests of the villagers; how the land issues would be solved has not been touched upon at all, yet the country is already cheering and Wang’s reputation rose above that of Bo Xilai all of a sudden. These phenomena indicate China is at the stage where people yearn for open despotism, just like Tunisia back in the early 1990s. It is undeniable that this is public opinion, at least this is mainstream public opinion.

There are a few questions remain to be solved: first, how the dead knot of land issues at Wukan is to be untied; second, after the dead knot is untied, would other regions follow suit; third, would the cessation of land acquisition be institutionalized. If all this can be achieved, then it means Wukan protests could give rise to an institutionalized feedback system. Otherwise, it means the authorities have merely chosen a soft approach over the rough one in dealing with protests.
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