Magazine article New Internationalist

Wild Grass: China's Revolution from Below

Magazine article New Internationalist

Wild Grass: China's Revolution from Below

Article excerpt

Wild Grass China's Revolution from Below by Ian Johnson (Penguin Books ISBN 0 141 02155 1)

Ian Johnson's intriguing book is an examination, on a very human scale, of the burgeoning of grassroots revolt in China's rapidly evolving political and economic landscape. Opening with a quote from the Chinese philosopher, Han Feizi - 'Rulers and ruled wage one hundred battles a day' - he recounts the struggles of three individuals against a sclerotic and authoritarian system.

In Yan'an, historic heartland of the Communist Party, a former Red Guard turned small-town lawyer, Ma Wenlin spearheads a class-action lawsuit by thousands of farmers, protesting against unjust taxes. In Beijing, Fang Ke, an architecture student writes a book that becomes the focus for a movement opposing the wholesale demolition of the capital's historic heart of interlocking lanes and alleys. In the city of Weifang, one ordinary woman, ZhangXueling, negotiates the labyrinthine bureaucracy of local committees and central power to uncover the truth about the death in custody of her mother, killed as part of a government crackdown on the Falun Gong faith. …

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