Looting orgy at Chinese mine

(First Edition)

WHEN the peasants of Yingde county in southern China saw their local coal mine preparing to close, petty theft turned into what the Canton newspaper Yangcheng Wanbao called 'more or less open robbery' and finally 'massive collective looting'.

For three days last month, 600 to 700 peasants swarmed over the mine in Guangdong province, beating up miners who refused to pay protection money, stealing everything that could be moved and using looted dynamite to blow up heavy equipment for scrap. Even the red scarves of the Youth Pioneers were taken, along with the primary school's 400lb iron gate. Riot police had to be brought in to stop the 'mad plundering'.

By the time the newspaper's reporter reached the scene, Jintan Branch Mine lay in ruins. The 35,000kW high-voltage line to the complex had been cut. The repair shop was emptied of rail cars and large quantities of steel rail, while the water treatment system was demolished for its steel reinforcing beams.

Nor did the mine's staff facilities escape. Chairs, bowls, chopsticks and even jars of preserved vegetables were all taken from the mess hall, as were the electric cookers, crockery, stoves and drainpipes in the kitchen. Things that could not be removed, such as refrigerators, chopping blocks and boilers, were blown to pieces. Nearly half the mine's 229 workers fled during the orgy of looting.

Seeking to explain how so much state property could be plundered for so long without hindrance, Yangcheng Wanbao blamed incompetence and complacency among local party and law enforcement officials. Police had been assigned to the mine as it gradually closed down but they withdrew after six months, during which nothing had been done to remove the equipment. Leading officials had already found jobs elsewhere and the miners, who had not been paid for two months, showed little inclination to protect their employers' property when villagers, 'not caring whether it was day or night', sacked the mine between 6 and 9 May.

China's widening gap between rich and poor is most obvious in Guangdong province. Factories bordering Hong Kong pay the highest wages in the country, but much of the interior remains untouched by the wealth. While this may account for the eruption of greed which laid waste to Jintan Branch Mine, an encounter with some of those arrested afterwards left the Canton journalist uneasy.

They were all about 20, with only three to five years' schooling. 'All were saying: 'I am not sure that what we did broke the law. Everybody was taking things. I just joined them.' '. His article concluded: 'These illiterates, semi-illiterates and law-illiterates have the potential to be a great problem for law and order in the 1990s.'

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
business
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Sport
Germany's Andre Greipel crosses the finish line to win the sixth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 194 kilometers (120.5 miles) with start in Arras and finish in Reims, France
tour de franceGerman champion achieves sixth Tour stage win in Reims
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv'The Last Kingdom' is based on historical events
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Service Technician

£30000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitment Company...

Energy Sales Co-ordinator

£20000 - £25000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Energy Sales Consultant

£25000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitment Company...

Web / Digital Analyst - Google Analytics, Omniture

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client who are a leading publisher in...

Day In a Page

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil