Government Posters Address Villager’s Concerns and Push Development

In January 2012 a series of posters appeared on the walls of Xian Village addressing the issue of development. The posters, presumably printed by the local government or development company, recognize many of the concerns expressed by villagers. Adamantly, the government insists that 100% of the villagers will be returned to apartments within Xian Village. One poster dedicated to this issue shows construction plans and the exact area to be designated for villager buildings. Other posters address the issue of children’s schooling during the period of relocation and treatment of the elderly.  Many use Cantonese script rather than Mandarin as an attempt to reach older villagers who may not read or speak Mandarin well.

My earlier posts broach the issue of the return of property to the villagers after the renovation.  Mrs. Xian, a middle aged villager, noted that this is the main aspect of distrust that prevents her from signing away her property. Her distrust persists in the face of public guarantees and a contract that also guarantees the return of property. Still, posters are only posters, and the contract, as I mentioned in the earlier post, is written to grant wide unilateral powers of revision to the village government. Propaganda campaigns, regardless of their earnesty, cannot substitute for real foundations of trust such as accountable leadership, an independent legal system for settling disputes, and a dependable contract.

 

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