Like all rapidly developing nations, China is ripping into its countryside to develop industry and Western-style infrastructure (e.g., superhighways).

Over the weekend, cops cracked heads in a village in south China, not far from Hong Kong. Here’s how the NY Times article on the story opened:

A week of protests by villagers in China’s southern industrial heartland exploded into violence over the weekend with thousands of police officers brandishing automatic weapons and using electric batons to put down the rally, residents of the village said today.

The lead emphasizes that the riot took place in an “industrial heartland.” A few paragraphs down, though, we get the real story: rural villagers upset over unchecked development.

[T]he latest confrontation between villagers and a large-scale deployment of security forces has occurred in a rural enclave encircled by some of China’s biggest and fastest growing industrial cities. Indeed, demonstrating residents of Panlong village said their anger had been sparked by a government land acquisition program they had been led to believe in 2003 was part of a construction project to build a superhighway connecting the nearby city of Zhuhai with Beijing. Later, the villagers learned the land was being re-sold to developers to set up special chemical and garment industrial zones in the area.

The article doesn’t say, and I’d like to know, if Panlong is a farming village. I wish the villagers luck in stopping the government from turning their area into yet another production point for the global consumer and industrial markets.