“There are many Chinese people who, like me, hope something can be done to change the situation.”
'Bloody Map' is the founder of the Real Estate Blood Map in China.
The Matrix series are my favourite movies. From the first film until the very end, it shows what would be a simple antagonism between good and evil gradually becoming a complicated labyrinth. Indeed, our life in this real world is something of a complicated labyrinth.
China is one of the world's fastest developing countries. This change is not only a material one. It also impacts Chinese law and people’s conception of what their rights are.
Thirty years ago, the majority of Chinese people identified the benefits of the community and the nation over that of personal interest. When I was young, there was a fourteen-year-old teenager called Lai Ning
who died while trying to put out a forest fire. Because he placed the nation's property over his own life, he became a national hero, and every schoolchild was taught his story.
“Nowadays, most people no longer consider the nation’s property more important than their own lives”
Nowadays, most people no longer consider the nation’s property more important than their own lives. But although the phrase “holy and inviolable private property” exists in the Chinese constitution, whether or not it has been written into the mind of each Chinese citizen is another story. When the interests of the majority come into conflict with the rights of a minority, how do we make a choice?
In September, a man’s self-immolation to protest a forced demolition in a village of Yihuang County, in the Jiangxi Province, captured the entire country’s attention. The county official responsible for the demolition was unanimously criticised by the media and the public, and ended up being fired from his post. However, the position of people living in the county is more complex and nuanced: many locals considered that firing the official was unproductive and that the self-immolation actually damaged local development. I ask myself, regarding this incident: would I be able to help a victim of an unjust forced eviction if my own personal interests were affected?
“Chinese internet users showed more interest in the Blood Map than the famous pop singer Li Yuchun!”
The "Blood Real Estate Map" was first published on October 8, a little over a month ago. On October 20, Xinhua [the official state press agency] wrote its first report about the project; within a week, 10 major Chinese media outlets had reported on it. Today, a Google search for "血房地图"（“Blood Real Estate Map” in Chinese) gives 1,640,000 results. Based on Baidu [the main Chinese search engine] search results, Chinese Internet users showed more interest for the Map than Li Yuchun (a famous Chinese female pop singer) – for a while at least!
How can this be explained? I think there are many, many Chinese people, like me, who hope something can be done to change the situation. People usually react very strongly when they see the Blood Real Estate Map for the first time. They are shocked, angry, sad, even defensive. These reactions are completely normal. Anger has been accumulated for a long time, people need to vent their feelings on something.
“Creating the map has given me the opportunity to get over my initial rage and think about the bigger picture”.
As for me, after reading so much news on violent demolitions and relocations, and looking at the map every day, slowly I become less emotional. Creating the map has given me the opportunity to get over my initial rage and think about the bigger picture.
Violence linked to demolitions is an extremely complicated and systemic problem. Although the pain of displaced populations is completely understandable, reacting to evictions with anger oversimplifies the problem, and doesn’t help put a stop to it.
We are used to blaming others while shirking our share of responsibility. Finding and punishing a scapegoat for violent incidents may be the easiest short-term solution, but does it solve the essence of the problem? If the majority within a community or village still believes that the greater good overrides the rights of a minority of people, should the whole village be punished? And how far will people go tomorrow to carry out “the benefit of the majority”?
“Boycotting Chinese products would only make the situation worse”
Recently I read an article about the Blood Map in the French newspaper Le Monde. At the end of their articles, a few readers expressed their anger at the forced evictions and demolition violence. One reader asked: “how can we make business for this kind of country? We should boycott their products.” I’d like to send the reader this message: “Dear brother, I understand your indignation, but I’m afraid your reaction could make the situation an even bigger mess”. The only ones to gain from situations where one group of people opposes another group of people are hateful or corrupt politicians. Ordinary citizens always loose out.
A journalist once asked me: “Aren’t you afraid of revealing the government’s scars like this? I replied: “This is not the government’s scar, its China’s bleeding wound.”
“Ending violent evictions can only be achieved through a collective effort”
Ending violent evictions or demolition projects can only be achieved through a collective effort. Even the most carefully written laws, even strict instructions from central authorities to local officials, even a fair justice system… All of this won’t be enough if individual mentalities don’t change. Consumers can refuse to buy [homes built on “blood-stained” real estate] and developers refuse to build. Only then can the situation begin to change.
I know this is difficult; I am not a child. But except for this there is no other effective cure. We are all looking for the enemy, but there is no such easy thing. We can only go ahead firmly and slowly. This is the most efficient means of all I know. Set aside hatred, be mutually tolerant, assume responsibility and refuse to forget.
I don’t believe hatred can help heal the wounds of Blood Real Estate. I believe in love and tolerance, I believe in justice, transparency and rule of law, and moreover I believe in the power of refusing to forget. I believe in tomorrow.
If one day these bloody homes become ruins for later generations to visit, let the descendants remember what price in blood and tears this generation has had to pay, and only then can China become truly harmonious and great.”