5 November, 2005

hostage 2

Life after Jiangxi reports on a short-length hostage taking from around the turn of the century. Unlike the David Ji incident, there is no question that the kidnapping was related to a fraud. Also unlike the Ji incident, those who claimed to be defrauded did not get compensation.:

One day some time around late 1999 or early 2000, T, his wife, and his translator were driving back from a meeting or inspection visit or something. They were pretty close to home, and thus driving along a completed segment of the highway, when they came up to a barrier hastily errected from branches and bicycles. T felt uneasy about this, and urged his driver to just speed up and crash through it, but the driver did not listen. As soon as the car stopped, it was surrounded by an angry crowd of local peasants bearing machetes, shovels and other farming implements. T was completely freaked out, and urged everyone to remain in the car and phone the police. His intrepid interpreter however, decided to get out and negotiate.

It transpired that the local peasants had been employed by the contractor to work as labourers on that section of the highway. Once the work was finished, the construction company packed up and left, and the labourers did not receive their pay. As you can imagine, the labourers felt rather agrieved at this, and they had decided (3) that no officials would pay attention to their plight unless they did something excessive, like kidnapping the project’s foreign expert.

Somehow, with the stick of threatening to call the police and the carrot of promising to advocate their case at Provincial levels, the heroic interpreter managed to wrangle them all out of the situation. That evening, when T freaked out about it to me in private (and yeah, I think anybody would have freaked out about that experience) he estimated that they were held for only about 2 hours, which is hardly much time to be kidnapped for in the great scale of things, but it’s still not a pleasant experience to have had.

T and his marvellous interpreter kept their promise. They brought up the plight of the labourers at their next Provincial meeting. There, they were informed that the contractor had handed over the money to the foremen, expecting the foremen to then pass it on to the labourers. Aparently, if the foremen decided to pocket the money and disappear then it was neither the responsibility of the contractor nor the Provincial government.

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by @ 11:02 pm. Filed under Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

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