China’s new leader Xi Jinping has been talking up the idea of the “Chinese dream” since his inauguration. While millions of Chinese may aspire to greater material wealth, what about the “Chinese dreams” of petitioners in Beijing, one of the most disadvantaged groups in China?
These petitioners often hail from small towns or rural areas where they have little recourse against mistreatment, injustice, or official corruption. They loiter in Beijing, an expensive and alien city, by holding on to the glimmer of hope that their case would be heard by someone powerful and sympathetic. Unfortunately, more often than not, the petitioners are harassed, beaten, thrown into “black prisons,” or forcibly sent back home by goons hired by their local governments.
In a series of photos posted on Sina Weibo, China’s favorite microblogging platform, a group of petitioners held up hand-made signs describing their “Chinese dreams.” An old woman named Xu wrote, “My Chinese dream: at 70, I would not be sent to black [i.e. officially unacknowledged] prisons. I have the right to petition the central government. Jiefang is a crime.”
Zhao from Urumqi wrote, “My Chinese dream: Judicial fairness. Give back the life of my son.”
A woman named Jiang from Anhui wrote, “My Chinese dream is that Xi Jinping can protect my physical safety and give back my reproductive rights.”
A man named Zhong from Jiangxi Province wrote, “My Chinese dream is that China would no longer conduct land grabs of people’s homes, and I can live in safety and enjoy my work.”