Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Beginning of Part 2 of Wild Grass

Sorry my loyal blog readers, but I only was able to read 20 pages to pg 101 today. I got through the beginning of the 2nd story though. It appears that this story involves a Mr. Feng and a Mr. Luo who filed a class-action lawsuit against the government on behalf of over 23,000 households in Beijing. Interesting correlation to the class action suit leveled against the government of China by Ma Wenlin in the first story. They filed because over 284,000 households had had their land seized by the government to be leveled for development and given little compensation for their property. They know that they cannot get their homes back because they are already gone, but they are suing for fair compensation. The part that I got to just outlined that the lower and intermediate courts had rejected their case. I think this is yet another illustration of the organizing going on in China that was outlined in the first story.

Here are my discussion questions:

Here in Oregon, we just passed a law by referendum that requires the government to pay compensation to owners that have property but are prevented from using it in any way that they wish by urban planning. The result has been in many cases that the government allows the person to use it in the way that they wish because they are not able to pay suitable compensation. In this story, suitable compensation for land given to developers is also a theme. What do you think about urban planning? What do you think about land-use laws? Do you think that it is a good consequence that people can use their land any way that they wish without following any sort of plan? I think that I understand what these people are saying (the ones in Oregon - not necessarily China) that they should be able to use their land in any way that they wish. They do own it after all. My concern is that in my Metro area, land-use laws have caused a lot of turmoil, but at least in my mind it has had generally good results. Comparative to other cities of the same size, we don't have a large suburban sprawl problem and our downtown area is vibrant and some of the most expensive property in the area. So I think it is a fine line between land-use laws and fair compensation. Obviously, there are some areas (environmentally sensitive areas, farmland outside the metro area) that need to be protected and I am not sure the government actually has enough money to pay for the needed compensation to the owners. On the other side, there is the fact that these people own their land and have some rights to use it as they wish. Where do you think the line falls?

Do you think this evidence of more organizing by the Chinese against the government actually represents a larger movement by people in China, or do you think that these are just actually isolated instances that some author or Western agenda wishes to see as evidence of internal strife, but really isn't?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts. Have a good night and stay safe.

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