The Ba Zhai uprising and massacre of the Zhuang minority nationality

The 八寨起义 Ba Zhai uprising and massacre of the 壮 Zhuang minority nationality

In a 250-kilometer square area between Shanglin and Xincheng counties lives the Guangxi Zhuang minority nationality. In around 1376, the Zhuang people lived there in some eighty to a hundred villages known as “ba zhai” or “shi zhai”.

In 1376, the ninth year of Emperor Hong Wu of the Ming dynasty, farmers of Guping rose up in arms against the rule of the Ming dynasty. This marked the beginning of what became known as the Ba Zhai Uprising. In 1457, some 10,000 peasants of the Zhuang nationality attacked Wu Yuan (today’s Wuming county) and Nanning. Between 1470 and 1472, a thousand or so Zhuang people led by Huang Gonggang attacked Xincheng, Shanglin, Bingzhou, Yongchun (today’s Heng county, Bingyang county, and Yining county). The governor of Guangdong and Guangxi Han Yong led a suppression campaign and successfully put down the rebellion. In 1527, the Zhuang people set up their own government and they controlled some one thousand li around the original Ba Zhai villages. In 1528, the military commander of Guangdong and Guangxi Wang Shouren led an army of 6,000 against the Ba Zhai and massacred some 4,000 Zhuang nationality fighters. In 1554 and 1555, the Ba Zhai Zhuang fighters raided Nanning twice at night, killed Ming officials and looted the silver vault. Between 1578 and 1579, the Ba Zhai Zhuang nationality again had an army of some 70,000 strong. They posed an immediate threat to the Ming dynasty, so the govrnor of Guangdong and Guangxi Liu Yaohui gathered an army of 100,000 and went into battle, surrounding the Zhuang fighters and kept them under seige for 103 days. Over 9,000 Zhuang fighters were killed and over 6,700 were taken prisoner. The Ba Zhai Rebellion was finally crushed.

This was an ethnic uprising. It is an illustration of what Chinese political scientists and the People’s Daily editorials call “narrow nationalism”.

In 1185 in the Sung dynasty, the local magistrate of Zhipingjiang treated the villagers very brutally and cruelly. The magistrate accused 27 families including the family of a man named Wang Lang of harboring pirates in their homes so he ordered all the homes demonished and banned all members of the families from living in any coastal county. Members of the 27 families were driven to despair and they rose up against the local authorities.

This history, according to some modern Chinese mainland historians, is being repeated today. The modern Chinese term for forced eviction and forced demolition of residences is “chai qian”. Those who have been forcibly evicted from their residences have rioted and some have been beaten to death by goons sent by the local authorities to enforce eviction and demolition. One recent incident was the destruction by force of a Buddhist temple built in 1896 in the City of modern day Fuzhou on December 8, 2013, at 7:30 am. There has been a lot of outcry against such brutal eviction of residents and violent demolitions.

An interesting survey made public on December 16, 2013, asked how people felt during the year 2013. According to the survey, 1/25 of the Chinese mainland people feel “tired”, and 1/12 of the residents in Sichuan province felt “tired.”

According to another survey made public on December 15, 2013, over 60 percent of Chinese workers work over 50 hours a week, over half of the Chinese workers are not compensated for overtime work, and about 70 percent work more than 28 days a month with only 2 to 3 days of rest a month.

The pervasive administrative restrictions that restrict the people’s right to choose where to live (household registration restrictions), to have access to basic services (segregation of services for city residents and migrant workers working in cities), education, medical care, to have more than one or two kids (the one child policy), the right of farmers to sell their homestead land, the right to set up private banking and financial institutions, and now even the right to buy automobiles (in Tianjin as of December 15, 2013), have created a society in which people live in constant frustration. They feel helpless and hopeless, and they are “spiritually tired”, “mentally tired”, “physically tired”, “very tired”, as the survey found.

Air, water, soil pollution and smog linger on and are getting worse by the day and there is no solution in sight. People cannot even breathe normally. There is almost constant traffic congestion and no solution in sight despite the fact that there are six “beltways” around the city of Beijing.

Living with so much frustration and anxiety, no wonder the Chinese mainland people behave in such a retaliatory and uncivilized way.

A people treated uncivilly will behave likewise.


About masterchensays

Victor Chen, herbalist, alternative healthcare lecturer, Chinese affairs analyst, retired journalist
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