January, 2013

Mining in China

Specifically, I’d like to explore the mining operations and what sort of climate they operate under.  The mining accident in Guizhou that killed 18 people last November seems particularly interesting. I would like to explore what events led to the accident, as well as how the public perceived it.  I would also like to compare reactions of other miners compared to official statements issued by the government and press.  This accident was only one amongst many others, resulting in roughly 2,000 people killed in mining accidents over the last year.

The ChinaDigitalTimes website has many articles speaking towards the accidents. They include quotes and reactions as well. Another strong website is ChinaMining.org which is sponsored by the China Mining Association. This is a more formal representation of mining from the government’s perspective, rather than critical. It speaks to the mission of the mining companies and how they want to regulate operations more to protect the workers and environment, but it will be interesting to discover if it is actually accurate. EbiscoHost is also very source rich, with information on mining practices and policies, as well as critiques. One such piece is from Jerry Tien who wrote a critique of surface mining operations in China. Another such article is by Jennifer Qinghua Wang on the financial side of mining, and how they are able to finance the industry.

Collectively, these sources shed light on a lot of aspects of China’s mining industry, and I am not sure what direction I want to take it, but the topic does seem to have plenty of sources to focus my research with.

Li Tongzhong

The story of Li Tongzhong is fascinating in how it deals with critiquing the Great Leap Forward. It is critical, yet tactful in still maintaining a positive look back at the theory behind the Great Leap. I think when Li Tongzhong hit rock bottom and went to the grain silo to ask for 50,000 pounds of grain, the magnitude of the farmers’ plight was really felt. He described the farmers as immensely loyal communist workers, who truly believed in reform. They worked from sun up to sun down, freely providing the country with grain. They were described as pouring everything into the land reform, and tirelessly giving like a “mother spoiling her daughter.” But even after that, Tongzhong describes the state not as a draconian force purposely starving the workers, but blamed the mechanism that unfortunately over speculated grain production due to benevolent ambitions. Those in charge meant well, but the rhetoric eventually left the villagers without any food.

I think by 1979 when the story was published, the author meant to shed light on how the Great Leap Forward did in fact destroy the farming populations via starvation, yet he was tactful in not explicitly blaming the communist government. He blames the individuals who wanted so desperately to reach communism that they promised too much, and as a result those in the villages suffered. The author revealed how terrible it was for the farmers, yet still showed glimpses of hope and idealism. He was certainly critical of how the Leap played out, but remained loyal to the ideology behind the movement.

Young and Restless in China

The documentary “Young and Restless in China” shed greater insight into China’s growing ideological gap between generations. In particular, the question each younger generation person ask internally on how they fit in with the government and if they should stand up for their rights, or remain in fear. One segment that emphasized this conflict was illustrated with the young lawyer on her quest to fight for environmental rights. The build up to the 2008 Olympic games further intensified building projects throughout the country, and consequentially negatively affected many people and villages. Whether it was government controlled construction of power lines that never received permits, or public mining operations that devastated the local populations, civil rights violations are happening often. This young lawyer decided to stand up for many of the affected citizens and attempt legally to enact change. The rising middle class want fair and just laws, which they are prepared to fight for. Meanwhile, the older generation still is hesitant to cross the state, fearful of the repercussions.