Reports and videos smuggled out of heavily flooded areas in Hebei, northeast China, this week indicate that villagers have spent much of their week defending their homes from Communist Party officials trying to flood them to redirect water away from Beijing and Xi Jinping’s pet project, the planned future metropolis of Xiong’an.
“Video clips of scuffles, lengthy altercations and clashes with police have emerged on social media in recent days,” Radio Free Asia (RFA) documented on Friday, “showing embattled rural residents facing off with officials who want to flood their homes and farmland to protect Beijing, as well as ruling Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping’s pet project — Xiong’an New Area.”
China has experienced an enduring wave of civil disobedience and outright anti-communist protest for nearly a year, when nationwide protests against the country’s “zero-Covid” policy of large-scale city lockdowns and mass imprisonment of patients in quarantine camps erupted in November. The protests succeeded in forcing the government of genocidal communist dictator Xi Jinping to “optimize” the policy to end the widescale lockdowns in the immediate future. The human rights organization Freedom House documented over 2,000 “dissent events” in China attracting at least 29,000 participants between June 2022 and April 2023.
The flooding is a result of the devastation caused by Typhoon Doksuri, which has worked its way along the northeast coast of China, endangering not just the capital but heavily populated areas such as the city of Tianjin and Heilongjiang province. As of Thursday, Communist Party officials estimated that 1.23 million people nationwide had been evacuated from their homes to save them from flooding.
In Beijing, Communist Party leaders congratulated themselves for an allegedly swift response to the devastation this week. In Hebei, the province that surrounds the Beijing metropolitan area, Party officials have faced growing public outrage after openly encouraging the government to redirect water toward their communities to save Beijing, home to the nation’s most powerful elites.
The head of the Party in Hebei, Ni Yuefeng, wrote a message on social media this week stating that Zhuozhou, home to 600,000 people and one of Hebei’s most severely flooded areas, must “resolutely serve as a moat for the capital,” encouraging the deliberate flooding of his province to safeguard Beijing. Images of Zhouzhou dated Thursday showed water so high it nearly reached overhead highway signs.
— 李老师不是你老师 (@whyyoutouzhele) August 3, 2023
A local Hebei official confirmed on state television this week that the situation in Zhuozhou is partly the result of the diverting of floodwater out of Beijing and towards the smaller city, according to a report published by Bloomberg.
“Even before the recent disaster, authorities in Hebei had publicly stated that ensuring Beijing, Tianjin and Xiong’an are safe is a priority,” Bloomberg observed.
Ni Yuefeng’s “moat” comment prompted a torrent of disgust, outrage, and calls for resignation, which the Communist Party has reportedly since begun censoring from the internet. Ni also appears to have deleted the original post.
Similarly, China’s Water Resources Minister Li Guoying elicited anger from Zhuozhou residents with statements this week suggesting that the national Communist Party was prioritizing the protection of Beijing’s Daxing Airport and the Xiong’an New Area – which, unlike Zhuozhou, does not have an urban population yet.
“We must take all necessary measures to ensure the safety of the capital Beijing (including Daxing Airport), Xiong’an New Area, and the safety of those living in the flood storage areas,” RFA quoted Li as saying.
Videos from Zhuozhou circulating online appear to show sudden raging waves of water attacking communities in the city, which some observers have taken to be evidence of deliberate government action to unleash water.
Moment #Floodwater Surged into Supermarket: Direct Evidence of Unannounced Water Discharge by #CCP
According to villagers in #Zhuozhou, Hebei Province, after the CCP sent armed police to breach the river embankment for water discharge, they were discovered by villagers.
— Inconvenient Truths by Jennifer Zeng 曾錚真言 (@jenniferzeng97) August 3, 2023
The Chinese Communist Party has long maintained a tradition of diverting floodwaters and intentionally destroying entire communities, particularly rural or less wealthy villages, to protect its elite areas. In 2020, during a wave of torrential rain that hit the Chinese heartland, villagers in Anhui province accused the government of destroying dikes to purposely flood them. Chinese officials had already admitted to destroying dams elsewhere in the province to divert water.
Reports from Hebei this week indicate that, in anticipation of such actions, residents have begun to organize patrols to identify and stop government officials attempting to sabotage local water infrastructure. A video circulating on Chinese social media outlets and shared to Western outlets – where the Communist Party cannot delete them – believed to be from Tuesday shows a group of villagers in Hebei intercepting Party officials apparently sent to dig through an embankment and flood their community. The villagers demanded official government documentation for their work and refused to allow them to continue.
— 李老师不是你老师 (@whyyoutouzhele) August 2, 2023
RFA reported similar instances documented furtively on social media, including a situation in Hebei’s Ci village in which residents were taking turns standing guard over local dykes to ensure government officials would not appear and surreptitiously destroy them, flooding their homes.
In another village, Zhuzhuang, a video showed an impromptu levee control, featuring a man explaining, “We are here watching the levee so they can’t come here and dig through it. If they do, it will destroy several villages. The excavator is parked right there, so we villagers have to protect ourselves.”
RFA also documented reports of “scuffles,” including a group of villagers “piling aboard a police bus, shoving and shouting.”
China’s state-run Global Times newspaper attempted to praise Hebei officials in an article on Friday claiming the Communist Party is “sparing no efforts” to protect human life.
“All 402 villages in Hebei’s worst-hit city of Zhuozhou have had contact restored after the last 28 villages with potential risks of communication loss were fully examined, authorities said on Friday,” according to the Times, “adding that a total of 150 communication base stations have been restored in the city, with 211 stations still out of service, accounting for one fifth of the total.”