Sunday, April 20, 2014   




Talk is cheap at local level

Friday, December 23, 2011

Who the heck is Zheng Yanxiong?

Few people in Hong Kong - or even the mainland - would have heard of him, had it not been for his recent outbursts about outside media.

Beleaguered by months of standoff with residents of Wukan village in Guangdong's Shanwei city - where he serves as local party secretary - perhaps Zheng felt justified in unleashing a barrage of possibly the most quotable quotes of the year.

The villagers have been protesting over a deal transferring about 162 hectares of farmland to a private developer with little or no compensation paid.

So what did Zheng say in a meeting attended by hundreds of local officials and residents' representatives that was recorded on a video disc and made available to mainland media? In one outburst, he told the audience that "if you trust in outside media, then pigs can climb trees" - the Chinese equivalent of "pigs can fly."

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Then he said of his own situation: "There's only one group of people experiencing increasing hardship year after year. Who are they? Cadres including me. Our powers decline every day, and fewer and fewer methods are at our disposal. But responsibility becomes bigger and bigger."

How about his fellow citizens? "Ordinary people have bigger and bigger appetites, and become smarter every day. They are harder and harder to control."

But wait! Zheng's verbal diarrhea gets even better.

"What's more, a responsible government like [ours] and you don't look to us? You look to a few rotten outside media, rotten outside newspapers and outside websites. You confuse what's good and bad."

Excuse me, but is it the community that's confused - or Zheng? His remarks may top the quotable quotes chart, but his criticisms were sadly misguided.

It's common for central government policies - after filtering through to the municipal level - to be watered down, since local government interests aren't necessarily consistent with those of Beijing.

There have been instances in which local issues were poorly handled and escalated until higher authorities had to intervene to resolve them.

And so it is with the Wukan crisis. The People's Daily yesterday ran a commentary blaming misjudgment by the local government for the situation getting out of hand - because Zheng & Co failed to address legitimate appeals by the villagers.

The commentary came after a special task force was sent by Guangdong party secretary Wang Yang to clean up the mess.

Instead of blaming outside media, perhaps local yokels like Zheng should reflect on themselves why the issue couldn't have been dealt with better at the outset.

Has it crossed his mind that had the problem been solved earlier, the death of a villager while in detention may have been avoided. There remains a lot of room for improvement at the local level - however well-intended central government policies may be.


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