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Henan, China: Farmer Who Denounced Grain Storage Scandal Arrested and Tortured

Grain storage silos - credit: Leaflet, wikipedia
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Zhou Wanglei | Bitter Winter

Liu Xingguo from Baidian was beaten up by the police, who broke most of his teeth, after he revealed that statistics about grain reserves are falsified.

While China prepares for the birthday party for the Chinese Communist Party’s 100th anniversary on July 1, media have been instructed to report only positive stories about the great achievements of the regime. They include celebrating the country’s grain reserves, which guarantee that nobody will starve, and the progresses made in the food security programs.

But in fact all that glitters is not gold. Under the pretext of storing grain effectively and safely, lands were confiscated from farmers, who often were not adequately compensated. And grain reserve and food security statistics are inflated and falsified by local officers, who care more about their own career than about the population’s needs.

The story of Liu Xingguo, a farmer from Baidian village, Baidian township. Duchuan county, Henan Province, shows how the system really works. Liu was born in 1952, and as a child saw many of his relatives die of starvation during Chairman Mao’s Great Leap Forward.

In 2013, Baidian got it grain storage silos, and lands belonging to the local farmers cooperative were confiscated. The cooperative received a total compensation of 3.5 million RMB ($542,232), not all of which was distributed to individual farmers, who also claimed the sum was too low. The farmers started protesting, and managed to discover that 500,000 RMB had been paid as bonuses to local CCP executives, 30,000 RMB were given to the local police to keep the protesters quiet, and 90,000 RMB to the media for celebrating the great achievement.

What is more, the farmers discovered that the silos do not store any edible grain. There is only stale grain that can only be used for industrial purposes. Yet, the non-edible grain stored in Badian is counted in the statistics as part of the national grain reserve, and the local CCP officers receive subsidies for it.

Normally in China it is wiser to keep silent on such scandals, or else, but a group of brave villagers, led by Liu Xingguo and including Xu Yaohui, Wang Guoqiang, Wang Jinguo, Cai Jinfang, Chen Deqin, and Zheng Qingmei, decided to prepare a complaint and bring it to Beijing. They also wrote to local media.

When Liu returned from Beijing, he was promptly arrested by the Baidian police (who had also pocketed money as part of the operation), taken to the Baidian Police Station, and tortured. He lost most of his teeth.

An image of Liu and his partner posted on Twitter.
An image of Liu and his partner posted on Twitter.

Undeterred, after his release, he went again to Beijing to file a complaint during this year’s Two Sessions (i.e., China’s annual parliamentary meetings, where the two main political bodies of China—the National People’s Congress and the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference—meet and unveil plans for the following year).

This time, he was arrested by the Duchuan County Public Security Bureau in Beijing, and was criminally detained on April 13, 2021. His arrest was formalized on May 19, and he is now awaiting trial and sentencing.

The question is, how many false silos such as these in Baidian there are in China, and how can we trust the “glorious” statistics and reports of the CCP.

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