Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Rule of law requires confidence and legitimacy

When a foreign reporter is in the right place those of us outside of China learn about violence that is reportedly common. Would this happen if people had confidence in the legitimacy of the rule of law?

Villagers burn four construction workers to death in China land dispute
Villagers in a bitter standoff with a property developer in rural south-western China burned four construction workers to death in a clash that left eight people dead, authorities have said.

The incident in Yunnan province was one of the most violent land conflicts to strike the country’s vast rural hinterland in recent years, casting a spotlight on the plight and anger of residents who see their livelihoods threatened when their lands are seized by developers with the backing of local governments.

Often villagers left with no means to seek redress have resorted to violence, making land disputes a chief cause of unrest in China. “What can a villager do when he cannot resort to the law, gets no response from the local government and finds it useless to petition the higher authority?” rights advocate Huang Qi said. “So they resist with their lives.”

Alarmed by such violence, the ruling Communist party is expected to grant more independence to local courts in the hope of extending justice and alleviating tensions between members of the public and local governments…
"Armed" villagers at Fuyou village
State media reports said the latest dispute at Fuyou village was over land compensation. Villagers complained about low payments for land seized for a warehouse and logistics centre, a major project backed by the local government…

The violence has not been unconditionally condemned by members of the public, many of whom are instead questioning what led to the conflict. “Neither side trusted the current legal system, and neither was willing to solve disputes within the current political framework, so they took the matter into their own hands,” blogger Liu Buchen wrote. “If the current law can be trusted, there will be significantly fewer cases where violence is used to solve disputes.”…

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