Featuring three groups of protagonists, namely the ‘peasant champion’ who filed class-action lawsuit against the government for over-taxing, the Beijing citizens whose residence were destroyed for property development, and the daughter hose mother was killed in the suppression of Fault Gong, the book not only has envisioned me on some of the most controversial issues in China, but also has directed me on how to re-examine the nation in alternative perspectives. The ‘peasant champion’: shedding lights on rule of law in China As a law student, I hold a strong belief that law primarily functions to achieve justice.The notion of ‘everyone is equal before the law’ means that everyone is to be treated equally regardless of your background, wealth and power. Unfortunately, in an authoritarian state like China, rule of law does not seem o play out its ideal role. The story of Ma Welkin, the ‘peasant champion’, has precisely portrayed such fallacy in the Mainland nowadays.
Firstly, there is a lack of effective checks and balances on government power and authority. The Chinese government essentially enjoys immunity from a majority of lawsuits.For instance, one cannot sue government censors for violating one’s right to free speech. (Johnson, 2004) Interestingly, the freedom of speech is guaranteed in Pro’s constitution.
This leads to an awkward result in that people are unable to vindicate their legal rights through litigation, despite hey, in theory, are supposed to enjoy such rights. It is therefore hard to expect that the Chinese legal regime, as a figurehead Of the authority, can achieve much in limiting the rulers’ power, not to mention in protecting people’s freedom and rights.Moreover, the intervention from the executive and administrative branch also creates a substantial obstacle for the actualization of rule of law in China. For instance, it was known from the story that the central government can actually issue orders instructing courts to reject particular cases. (Johnson, 2004) With such influence, it is foreseeable that the judiciary is subject to enormous political influences when trying court cases.
Judges are thus unable to make impartial and independent decisions.Law, therefore, is degraded to a mere tool for those in power to legitimate their authority. There is also widespread manipulation of the legal system by officials. It is mentioned in the story that local governments leveraged a range of unreasonably high taxes on peasants. Although the central government has passed law limiting the amount of taxes charged to be no more than 5% of farmers’ monthly income, officials nevertheless were managed to get around he rule and charged ‘special taxes’ to profit out of the pockets of poor peasants. Johnson, 2004) It was appalling to know how supercilious these officials were, who totally disregarded the existence of relevant law and did what they want for their own benefits.This, in my view, is one of the most deeply set hurdles for the promotion of rule of law in China.
From a more theoretical standpoint, the fact that courts are not bound by the precedents of previous cases creates a loophole for the authority to abuse the legal system. In the absence of binding precedents, courts in China often make lings that completely ignore the fact that other courts have ruled differently in similar cases. Johnson, 2004) The story of Ma was such an example.
It is contended that without appropriate control on the authority power, the govern meet can easily control the outcomes of subsequent court claims by exerting pressure on the judiciary. Unfairness therefore arose. In contemporary China, law is perceived by the public as the ‘modern form of petitioning (Ions, 2004, p. 52), an opportunity for ordinary citizens to seek for fair treatments and vindication of their rights. However, flaws in theChinese legal system provide opportunities, one after another, for executive intervention and abuse of the regime, which renders law unable to protect the disadvantaged and exploited. From my point of view, the faulty legal system, has given the disadvantaged a sense of relative deprivation.
Frustrated to rely on the ineffective formal channels, more people choose to engage in protests and rebellions to communicate their thoughts to the central authority and gain public attention.Although the ideologies of democracy and rule of law have not been well developed and accepted by the 2 authority, it is definitely a delight seeing Chinese standing up to defend for their rights, especially when they are subject to enormous pressure from the authority who by every means tries to stop them from doing so. Dream of A Vanished Capital: competing interests of development and conservation Being one of the fastest growing economies worldwide, China has been considered a successful example of rapid modernization.
High- rising skyscrapers and buildings with western contemporary design have been readily taking over dynasty-old houses and structures as the new landmarks of many first-tier cities in China. But is it really good? Centering at another class-action lawsuit of two Beijing citizens against the destruction of their homes, the story answers the question from a social viewpoint and draws readers’ attention to the problem Of corruption, as well as the social costs behind the modern and extravagant buildings. The policy that puts development ahead of everything else is in my respectful opinion problematic.One reason is that it threatens Chinese cultural and historical heritage, from which part of our Chinese identity comes from. The story, for instance, describes how Beijing is being destroyed systematically at n astonishingly fast pace and transformed into ‘a virtual walled city that existed only on street signs’ (Johnson, 2004, p. 106).
The waste of resources on thoughtless destruction is essentially wiping away the historical traces of some old places and transforming them into cookie-cutter cities which bear no unique characteristics.Not only have the historical buildings been cracked down, the livelihood of residents has also been adversely affected in the process of redevelopment. In many occasions, they are forced to relocate to other places during reconstruction with little or no compensation, and usually ND up living on outskirts of town in poor housing.
(Johnson, 2004) It is thus unjust for ordinary citizens to bear such unfair treatments and sacrifice their living quality for the proclaimed benefits of development, which they themselves cannot benefit from at all.A corrupted government is another catalyst for the decline of cultural ambiance in China. The central government’s dual identity of being a dominating market player and at the same time a market regular provides lucrative opportunities for officials to profit from bribes from business sectors. Apart from that, non-compliance to elevate law and regulations is common, 3 and the decision-making mechanism is arbitrary. For instance, the thing that determines whether a home is ‘dangerous and dilapidated’ is not any scientific proof but a simple ‘declaration’ by a low level office.Johnson, 2004) As procedures become mere formalities, it encourages abuse of power to the officials’ own benefits, which may well be against public interest.
It is inevitable that a nation needs to modernism through a certain extent of urban reconstruction. However, it is suggested that a balance must be stroked between economic development and preservation of historical irritate. As the title of the story precisely suggests, the capital city of Beijing has been ‘vanishing’ and losing its cultural ambiance. Associated with development is the undesirable nuisance to the general public.A corrupted government, who ignores the requests of its people and continues to turn a blind eye on problems in the regime, will eventually lose its legitimacy and support from its people. Turning the Wheel: development or conservation? The last story is in my opinion the most haunting one. It depicts the Communist Party’s bloody suppression against Fault Gong which claimed numerous lives of its adherents, including the protagonist, 57-year-old Chem.
Xiii. The tale develops as Sheen’s daughter, Ghana Gulling, changing from being indifferent to politics to one persistently fighting against the wrongs done to her mother.It has provided me some valuable insights on evaluating Fault Gong as a pseudo ‘underground religion’, the nationalist approach adopted by the Communist Party in maintaining social stability, and the government’s suppression on its people’s freedom. It was found that despite the non-recognition of Fault Gong as a ‘religion’ by he Communist Party, Fault Gong itself actually shares some key characteristics of an underground religion, especially after the 1 999 crackdown.First, Fault Gong combines exercises with moral and spiritual teachings, which require adherents to cultivate ‘truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance’. Griffith, 2014) F-Alan Gong therefore cannot be said to be a pure going group as it encompasses a certain kind of ‘belief for its adherents to follow. Second, the use of sophisticated underground organizing methods by adherents, such as the use alias in correspondence and encrypted e-mail to exchange sensitive information (Johnson, 2004), share great similarities to the use of secret codes by underground societies in ancient China. 4 The brutal suppression against Fault Gong can also be explained by the fear Of threat to the party’s authority.
China has had a very long history Of rebellions from millennial groups, to which the fall of many dynasties could be attributed. (Johnson, 2004) To the Communist Party, the rise of Fault Gong hints a brewing oppression and a potential social unrest, which are likely to cause trouble to their governance. They therefore stroke first to prevent history from repeating itself again by pursuing a ‘no-measures-are-too- excessive’ approach. In my view, such rule with iron fist is excessive and wholly unjust, especially when it involves the use of torture and extra-judicial punishment against protesters.
It cannot effectively deter people from rebelling, but rather induce more people to challenge the legitimacy of the government, as we can see that continuing suppression against Fault Gong adherents just propel more people into aggression. Another crucial observation from the text is that the Communist Party has increasingly relied on the notion of patriotism to cultivate solidarity. Chinese leaders have always been wrapping themselves in patriotism as a means to legitimate their rule.
This is evident from the increasing patriotic education after the June 4th Incident and the propaganda against Fault Gong. To me, the reliance on nationalism to maintain social cohesion is a double-edged sword. Indeed, it is useful in cultivating national identity and sense of pride among people. However, such Sense of recognition is based On the merits Of the nation and ought to be spontaneous. Surveillance on people’s speech and activities and suppression to those against the government may be able to extinguish protests and rebellions in short term, but can never nurture true solidarity.