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China

Outrage In China As Concrete Cones Keep Homeless Away From Underpasses

NANFANG DAILY (China), GUCHENG.COM (China)

Worldcrunch

GUANGZHOU - For a country like China, founded on the precepts of fairness and justice, where the proletariat are supposedly the masters, this wasn't supposed to happen.

Thanks to photographs posted this week by a Chinese blogger, we see the space under a viaduct in Guangzhou city covered with sharp protruding mini concrete pyramids. The nasty-looking teeth-like cones are 10 centimeters high and cover the whole area underneath the elevated road.

Obviously they have been put there so those on the margins of society give no thought to congregating there, even if some manage to sleep in a narrow place nearby: see photo below.

After the news was disclosed it immediately spread across China and caused a public firestorm. The majority of people are appalled at the inhumanity of the Guangzhou authorities as well as their contempt for basic human rights. One blogger asked: "If the authority has the time to do such things, why can't it use the energy and money in helping these people instead?" Gucheng.com reported that another commentator added: "Who gives you the right of using tax-payers' money to make life difficult for people?"

After days of public indignation, the Guangzhou Municipal Construction Committee's official finally admitted that the cement cones in several locations of Guangzhou were put there 10 years ago. Originally they were indeed intended "to prevent tramps from living there", according to the Nanfang Daily.

According to many bloggers who responded to the incident, many other Chinese cities apart from Guangzhou use the same "eyesores', as many put it, to fend off the destitute.

Like those all over the world, China's major cities are full of the impoverished. Often they are migrants who come from the rural areas, and end up stranded on the streets without being able to find any work. The Chinese authorities used to implement an administrative procedure of forced custody and repatriation. They detained people who didn't have a residence permit (the hukou) or a temporary living permit and returned them to where they could legally live or work. The regulation was abolished in 2003 under public pressure after a poor chap called Sun Zhigang was beaten to death while in custody because he happened not to have the right papers on him when searched.

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Geopolitics

Utter Pessimism, What Israelis And Palestinians Share In Common

Right now, according to a joint survey of Israelis and Palestinians, hopes for a peaceful solution of coexistence simply don't exist. The recent spate of violence is confirmation of the deepest kind of pessimism on both sides for any solution other than domination of the other.

An old Palestinian protester waves Palestinian flag while he confronts the Israeli soldiers during the demonstration against Israeli settlements in the village of Beit Dajan near the West Bank city of Nablus.

A Palestinian protester confronts Israeli soldiers during the demonstration against Israeli settlements in the West Bank village of Beit Dajan on Jan. 6.

Pierre Haski

-Analysis-

PARIS — Just before the latest outbreak of violence between Israelis and Palestinians, a survey of public opinion among the two peoples provided a key to understanding the current situation unfolding before our eyes.

It was a joint study, entitled "Palestinian-Israeli Pulse", carried out by two research centers, one Israeli, the other Palestinian, which for years have been regularly asking the same questions to both sides.

The result is disastrous: not only is the support for the two-state solution — Israel and Palestine side by side — at its lowest point in two decades, but there is now a significant share of opinion on both sides that favors a "non-democratic" solution, i.e., a single state controlled by either the Israelis or Palestinians.

This captures the absolute sense of pessimism commonly felt regarding the chances of the two-state option ever being realized, which currently appears to be our grim reality today. But the results are also an expression of the growing acceptance on both sides that it is inconceivable for either state to live without dominating the other — and therefore impossible to live in peace.

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