Wednesday, April 4, 2007

The Chinese Zax

Today in China , the disputes aren’t quite what they were in 1989 in Tiananmen Square – when a student protester boldly stood in front of tanks rushing in to break up anti-government protests.

We all know now, the students won that round. But the images today are no less telling, and inspiring.

Today’s tale is brought to us courtesy of The Washington Post. Wu Ping and Yang Wu live(d) in the outpost of Chongqing , 900 miles outside of Bejing. Ping and Wu owned a small house among 300 in an area that developers wanted torn down to make way for the latest, massive bit of sprawl popping up in that land.

All the other owners sold out and moved. Ping and Wu held out. Eventually, all the other houses were raised. Wu and Ping held out. Their story became the stuff of legend around China , where they stood up to the government and the developers who refused to meet their demands – whatever those were - for three years.

It was shades of my good friends the Zax. Yes, the Dr. Seuss Zax. The north-going Zax ran into the south-going zax out on the Prairie of Prax one way and neither would budge. All around them, society rumbled on. And they kept standing, toe to toe, those Zaxes did, until the highway was built right around them.

But back in China , Ping and Wu caved – or their price was met, we’ll never know. And, under cover of night, the house was bulldozed over and the shopping plaza will now get built.
The picture of the house standing on its own tells the whole story. Was it stubbornness, fairness or just Nimbyism on a grand scale? I’m not sure and I don’t want to know.

But it is impressive – particularly in a place like China – to see the power of one or two people, committed and resolute, is still an immovable force.

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