Protest Without Recognition

The hotel staff who wash the bricks, cars and windows in the mornings in the courtyard of the Hebei Guesthouse did not stop their work or even divert their attention when about 20 elders from the area walked through the open red gates holding banners.

The group was here to protest and no one seemed to care.

A handful of women sat on the steps outside the lobby while the men tied red and white banners from corners of the roof to trees across the courtyard.

This group of protesters was scammed into buying a non-existent burial plot, one man said through a translator. The provincial government took their money, promising a secured burial plot, but used that land for something else. The man said the government refuses to return their money. They gathered at the Hebei Guesthouse, a government-run establishment, to demand their money back.

Although they have been coming together in the same way every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning for the past eight years, the elders didn’t seem to be pushing for a change, just making their presence known. It was as if they were protesting within the rules, or a sort of non-protest protest.

This form of protest resembled more of a social gathering rather than the explosive image of protests that the U.S. news consumer associates with China. These protesters were not organized within minutes by text messages, it was not an impulsive and impromptu uprising and there was no adrenaline-fueled sense of disorder in the air. The men and women of the area simply came together out of habit at the nearest governmental building to ask for something they knew they weren't going to get, the man told our guide.

Later, the man stopped to pose for a picture in front of the banner, smiling, and then another with our entire group.

China Impression

enjoyed the articles, although they ultimately impress a grim feel. i can't imagine it's all bleak in a country that historically led and still leads the world in may respects. maybe american spectacles filter the more sophisticated colors?