Model Rebels: The Rise and Fall of China's Richest Village

Model Rebels: The Rise and Fall of China's Richest Village

Model Rebels: The Rise and Fall of China's Richest Village

Model Rebels: The Rise and Fall of China's Richest Village

Synopsis

A portentous tale of rural rebellion unfolds in Bruce Gilley's moving chronicle of a village on the northern China plains during the post-1978 economic reform era. Gilley examines how Daqiu Village, led by Yu Zuomin, a charismatic Communist Party secretary and president of the local industrial conglomerate, became the richest village in China and a model for the rural reforms of the 1980s and early 1990s. A growing campaign of political resistance led to increasing tensions between the villagers and the Chinese state, and eventually, in an event that made headlines around the world, an armed confrontation between the village and higher authorities backed by paramilitary police brought Yu Zuomin and his village crashing down.

Excerpt

We peasants have paid a stiff price for leftism. We still have nightmares about a return to the leftist persecutions and the poverty of the past. I have been poor and so has this village. We must never go back to that period!

Yu Zuomin, 1979

Once you pass the pear orchards and vegetable fields of suburban Tianjin on your way south toward the village of Daqiu, the landscape changes suddenly. the tree-lined roads and lotus ponds of the former colonial port city and its environs disappear. So too do the brick houses and well-paved roads that mark the current-day prosperity of Tianjin. By the time you reach Jinghai, the capital of the county by the same name, the countryside is dry and bleak. Corn fields and dust bowls envelop the scene. Adobe and mud huts, known collectively by the Chinese peasants as “dirt houses” (tufang), dot the bleak terrain.

The village of Daqiu can be reached along a winding dirt and asphalt road about fifteen kilometers southeast from Jinghai, forty-five kilometers from Tianjin. Hedged in today by the Tuanpowa reservoir to the northeast and the Dagang oil field to the southeast, it is one of literally . . .

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