Presentation of Dawu Group magazine in 2014 on Sun Yatsen by Sun Dawu 孙大午 to Lily Sui-fong Sun 孫穗芳 who is granddaughter of Sun Yatsen
My readers may be familiar with a story published on my websites about three years ago. The basis of the story didn't make the national headlines in China because it was a local matter; although, it represents a rather pervasive phenomenon. Several large advertising towers along the highway belonging to Dawu Group were demolished on June 16, 2018 by government departments.
The circumstance reminded the author of his experience at the Graduate School of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) in 1993. He asked his doctoral students to imagine they were starting up a business in their particular field of expertise. The project was to design a poster which would advertise their business. Out of his own funds he purchased the posters which were to be used.
It was amazing the degree of enthusiasm and skills the students applied to their project. This was magnified because most of the students were in theoretical rather than applied sciences. They actually had to think about the real world and what they might do after they graduated.
Their teacher was quite proud of their achievements. He displayed their posters on the walls of three classrooms. However, he ran out of space. Therefore he also posted them on the walls of the stairwells.
The Party had them all torn down within one-half hour. It may not be called demolition, but it is definitely censorship of free speech. They asked him why the posters had been put up. He explained to them that his kindergarten teacher used the same method. And everything he learned was in kindergarten--especially social skills. They didn't quite know how to respond to that reply.
Dawu Group put up large advertising signs along the highway to direct motorists to their businesses--especially out of town travellers who wanted to find the water park. They asked permission of authorities to put up the signs and they received permission. Another hundred businesses did the same thing.
Yet, one day the government arbitrarily tore down the signs without using legal procedure. They even confiscated property in the same manner. Anyone else-- except those in authority--might regard it as vandalism if not theft. The signs were sold for their scrap steel value. Of course, the government used a third party so that they could distance themselves from illegal theft. The point is that the distinction between getting permission and not getting permission is blurred because the government can act arbitrarily and even claim legality based on vague laws. However, if the government is teaching its citizenry to act as it does rather than what it says then it may unexpectedly get exactly what it wishes.
One might say that the government's dismantlement of the billboards was predicatable based on two factors. The most important was the Xiong'an New Area 雄安新区 which was established in April 2017. Xiong'an's development is taking place under the direct oversight of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council. This means private signs were sacrificed by the State in the interest of public good as interpreted by the State, part of a beatification program or for any other reason.
The second factor involves precedent. The city of Beijing had announced on December 17, 2017 that 27,000 illegal signs would be demolished. These were along the 4th Ring Road which was fininished in 2001. The author is familiar with this road because he travelled on it for 45 minutes by bicycle to CAS in Zhongguancun, Haidian District so he could teach a 3 hour class and then returned on the same road in the opposite direction to teach a 3 hour class at CASS in Chaoyang District.
The battle of 4th Ring Road, so to speak, was waged on four fronts; namely, signs, safety, beatification and demolition of homes. Tens of thousands of rural migrants and workers were kicked out of their homes and forced to move back to the countryside. One woman was thrown out of her home, thrown out of a hostel the next day and thrown out of another hostel on the third day.
The dismantlement of billboards in the Xiong'an area in 2018 was also a harbinger of things to come. Billboards are basically signs. However, symbols are much more important. Dawu SUN, Dawu Group and Dawu City are related symbols. They symbolize freedom, family enterprise, democracy, constitutionalism and moral principles. The three symbols are perceived as threats to the Communist Party because of their proximity to the the Xiong'an New Area (Xi's legacy project).
Dawu City is a socialist, utopian paradise of common prosperity. It is based on goodness rather than evilness. The model encourages people to be good and it begins with the family and earlier with ancestors and rites. On the other hand, the Party's model is top down. It assumes that force is necessary because people are born evil. Of course, it may be said that evil is in the eye of the beholder.
It can be perceived that SUN Dawu is much like Confucius who searched for a ruler to serve. According to a new book called of The Shortest History of China by Linda Jaivin, Confucius asked seventy-two different rulers if he could serve them. Ironically, it seems, he also had seventy-two pupils who mastered his thought, but they were not rulers.
Unfortunately for Sun--China has only one ruler. China is ruled by only one thought. It is Xi Jinping Thought. It is a situation reminiscent of the Cultural Revolution under Mao Tse-tung who wanted to preserve Chinese Communism and his own authority by imposing Mao Tse-tung Thought as the dominant ideology.
There is a difference though between Confucius and SUN Dawu with respect to the times they lived. Confucius lived in the Spring and Autumn period of the Zhou Dynasty. He was arrested only temporarily because of misidentification. However, if Confucius had lived in the Qin Dynasty he likely would have been persecuted or perhaps executed through burial along with 460 Confucian scholars. The author classifies Emperor Qin Shi Huang's Thought as "Tough Thought".
It was not enough for the Party to establish a committee at Dawu Group. It was not enough for the Party to require systematic government access to private-sector data at Dawu Group as they have required throughout China. It was not enough to hold a local meeting of the Party at Dawu Group around the time of the trial.
What was required was the arrest of more than 20 family members and company executives of Dawu Group along with the seizure of the Dawu Group Ltd. What was required was replacement of all 30 managers of the subsidiaries with officials sympathetic to the Party if not outright Party members. What was required was the conviction of SUN Dawu and others on charges of "Picking quarrels" 寻衅滋事 which the author calls "Peking quarrels" even though those quarrels were provoked by organs of the State. What was required by the Party was the Annihilation of the Dawu Group Family Enterprise reminiscent of the Annihilation of the Kong (Confucius) Family Enterprise in 1966 during the Cultural Revolution.
The trigger for the arrests and seizure of Dawu Group 大午集团 were the land dispute incidents of 6.21 and 8.4 against Xushui State Farm in 2020 which are known in Chinese as 2020年针对徐水国营农场的6.21和8.4土地纠纷. Three of the charges relate specifically to the 8.4 incident of August 04, 2020. The following abbreviated account is provided through the courtesy of China Change.
"The “August 4 incident” specifically refers to a series of collective rights’ protection actions by Dawu Group employees on August 4, 2020, when the Xushui District Public Security Bureau (徐水区公安局) intervened with excessive force in the land dispute between Dawu Group and a state-owned farm.
At the end of July 2020, the Dawu Group built fences and prefabricated mobile houses on the Sijiatai (四家台) lot for farming and management needs in accordance with the land contract signed with Langwuzhuang village (郎五庄).
On August 4, 2020, the state-owned farm obtained the protection of a large number of police from the Xushui District Public Security Bureau (PSB) through a mere written request without prior notice to Dawu Group, without negotiating with Dawu or taking other legal approaches. The state farm personnel unilaterally demolished Dawu's enclosure and mobile houses valued at 18,000 yuan..."
In retrospect, one can see that the demolitions began outside of the Dawu Group on the highways leading up to it. It involved the destruction of billboards or property owned by Dawu Group which were used for advertising purposes. The company had legal permission to erect those billboards. Dawu Group's staff claimed the demolition was done by government departments. The mayor actually said "Your Dawu Company must support the work of the government!" Basically, the Dawu response was as long as it complies with the law. The author seems to recall that the total loss to the Dawu Group amounted to $100,000 US and the loss to business is incalculable.
On August 04, 2020 another demolition took place at Dawu City. It was a building owned by Dawu Group. The building had been erected a few days earlier. This was done in accordance with a land contract with Langwuzhuang village (where SUN Dawu was born). However, the building was demolished without notice under a police protective umbrella. While the damage done amounted to only about $3000 US; nevertheless, the demolition was planned in advance as a provocation by an organ of the State. A civil disturbance and resistance ensued. In the immediate aftermath, Dawu Group employees were arrested. No one who was responsible for the demolition was arrested. No police were arrested. All of this resulted in the midnight arrest of the Great Noon (SUN Dawu) and executives of the company by police wielding submachine guns on November 11, 2020. In effect, the entire Dawu Group Ltd. was also seized by the State.
D. Carlton Rossi
October 25, 2021
Beijing is rapidly demolishing its own city, and 27,000 billboards are next,
Tara Francis Chan Dec 4, 2017
Briefing on the Seventh Day of Dawu Trial
Dawu Legal Team, July 21, 2021
The large-scale billboard of the private enterprise "Dawu Company" was demolished (Reproduced by Boxun on June 22, 2018.
Linda Jaivin, The Shortest History of China, Published by Black Inc.: Carlton Australia, 2021.
河北大午农牧集团有限公司 Hebei Dawu Agriculture and Animal Husbandry Group Co., Ltd.
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