Home / News Type Content Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read | Comment
Henan People Fight Discrimination … Against Them
Adjust font size:

" Henan epitomizes China," so writes Ma Shuo, a native of Henan, in his Who Did People from Henan Offend published by Hainan Publishing House in 2002. "China is the most populous country in the world, Henan is the most populous province in China; China is the largest agricultural country, Henan the largest agricultural province; China is the biggest developing country, Henan the biggest developing province."


According to a China Daily report on February 10, the nation's first civil lawsuit on regional discrimination reached settlement. Through mediation by a local court in the High-tech District of Zhengzhou, capital of Henan, the police substation in Longgang District, Shenzhen, has apologized for hanging reportedly discriminatory banners outside a produce market in March 2005. The banners called for the smashing of Henan racketeering gangs. The two plaintiffs, Ren Chengyu and Li Dongzhao, accepted the apology and voluntarily dropped the other charges.


However, and regretfully, the court didn't give a clear verdict on the dispute that could serve as a reference for possible similar cases in the future. Moreover, because the lawsuit didn't draw the attention of the supreme legislative and judicial departments, its social significance has been largely ignored, according to a Nanfang Weekend commentary on February 16.


"I believe the judicial officials involved sympathized with us because they are all from Henan," Ren told the Guangzhou-based paper. "But I must admit that they had to handle the case under tremendous pressure."


The suit was filed last April. The plaintiffs charged that the banners had infringed upon the rights of the Henan people, damaged their reputation and caused mental trauma. Zheng Shuiquan, president of the local court, has since not agreed to any media interviews.


Last December, the Henan People's Radio Station began broadcasting a program called "My Hometown: A Land of Beauty." Wang Quanshu, vice secretary of the provincial Party committee, hopes that the program will help boost Henan people's confidence and more important, remodel the image of Henan, which is closely linked to the province's economic growth.


Zhang Xinbin, a researcher with the Henan Provincial Academy of Social Sciences, pointed out that the prejudice against the Henan people is a long-standing one. Historically, Henan was the political center of many feudal dynasties. As a result, official rank slowly became the only criterion for judging one's social wealth. For that reason, Henan people are often described as craving fame and personal gain, and will stop at nothing to climb the official ladder, Zhang said.


No one knows for sure when the Henan people were first made a target for attack. It's said that for some time, passengers on trains were routinely warned to be more vigilant about keeping their personal belongings safe in Henan. From the mid-90s, that feeling of regional discrimination toward Henan seemed to spread across the nation.


Wu Jingqin who sells vegetables at Beijing's Huixin Food Market has fallen victim to that prejudice merely because of her Henan accent. "I'm honest with all customers, so I cannot understand why I should be ridiculed because of the way I speak," she complained.


"Regional discrimination can be found anywhere in the world, and beyond all doubt it is extremely unfair," Prof. Miao Changhong of Henan University said.


"Henan is a poor province, but not the poorest," Ma writes in his bestseller. "The discrimination against people from Henan might seem to be a regional or cultural one, but fundamentally it's an economic one…. To some extent, economic discrimination is the most primitive and also the deepest…."


For that very reason, "There's no need at all for us to care what other people think. Instead, we should focus our attention on developing production and bringing about economic prosperity," Li Chengyu, the province's governor, said in an interview with CCTV.


Notwithstanding a regional development imbalance in Henan, its gross domestic product (GDP) growth exceeded 1 trillion yuan last year, making it one of China's top five provinces.


According to Lin Da, a well-known Chinese writer living in the US, in terms of anti-discrimination China still has a long way to go. Usually discrimination comes of itself, but to counter it, both self-education and rational introspection of the country's people are necessary, Lin said.


For Ren and Li who pursued the banner issue, things didn't quite work out the way they expected. First of all, they wanted to send a clear message to society that regional discrimination is an unlawful practice. Second, they hoped to bring about the development of an "anti-discrimination" law.


"A good law can help settle a problem that's possibly beyond solving by any other means," Ren said.


(China.org.cn by Shao Da, February 27, 2006)

Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read
Pet Name
China Archives
Related >>
- Citizens Sue Shenzhen Cops for Discrimination
- Police Apology for Henan Slur Rejected
- Henan Stigma Highlights Regional Bias
- Police Apologize for Discriminatory Banners
Most Viewed >>
- World's longest sea-spanning bridge to open
- Yao out for season with stress fracture in left foot
- 141 seriously polluting products blacklisted
- China starts excavation for world's first 3G nuclear plant
- Irresponsible remarks on Hu Jia case opposed 
- 'The China Riddle'
- China, US agree to step up constructive,cooperative relations
- FIT World Congress: translators on track
- Christianity popular in Tang Dynasty
- Factory fire kills 15, injures 3 in Shenzhen

Product Directory
China Search
Country Search
Hot Buys