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February 27, 2008 in The China Beat


Copyright February 27, 2008. Used by permission.


A lot has been written about a rise in the number of protests in China – particularly mass demonstrations and those by farmers and villagers who face government land seizures. (Historian Charles Hayford wrote an interesting essayabout the terminology journalists use to describe different classes of people in China.)

But protests from the middle class in China are also garnering increased attention from the American press. The latest protest, a January “stroll” by homeowners in Shanghai who disagreed with an extension of the city’s famous Maglev train, have been described as “the strongest sign yet of rising resentment among China’s fast-growing middle class” (The New York Times) and “a quiet middle-class battle against government officials” (Washington Post). The South China Morning Postreported today (subscription required) that some residents say they’ve applied to hold a “legal protest” against the Maglev expansion this weekend. Benjamin

Benjamin L. Read (right), from the Department of Political Science at the University of Iowa, has been researching grassroots organizing with a particular focus since 1999 on homeowners movements in China. In a Q&A over email withThe China Beat, Read puts the Shanghai protests in context.