Chongqing La Silente. Why the municipality disappeared from the media

©MBonato, 30/04/15

Chongqing as city proper and as Chinese Municipality located in the south-western part of China, became suddenly famous in 2012 for a big political scandal, at the end of which its reputation came out devastated. The political struggles inside the CC in fact found reflection not only in the territory but also in the behaviour of its population, which had been engaged in demonstrations in favor of the local government.

What happened after the curtain lowered to the stage of this battlefield? As any other relevant historical event that affects a country or a place in a negative way, the immediate solution to the widespread discontent and malaise has been that to forget the past as quickly as possible. Is Chongqing a city with a so strong industrial vocation to overshadow any other aspect, so as to mention it only as industrial hub? A huge sac à poche producing every year a GDP equivalent to +15%; but is that all? The change in political administration has not reduced the real estate bubble, the social policies have worsened, and the iron fist is used over the needs of the population. The measures concerning displacement and land confiscation have continued, too. This is where the power struggle took place, a fury ad personam operated by the leadership and well managed by the media, both national and international ones that attended the banquet of the winners. The media helped the right wing to tilt the floor, making sure that the ball could roll around faster to their side. Coming back again to the present and the recent social protests happening in Chongqing, if the media are not interested in talking about this topic, then what remains of the city and its people? This place will never be only an industrial hub, a crossroads for trades and galactic railways.

Chongqing is that city born on the Ba reign, praised by poets, the unreachable goal for those Westerners who tried to go up the River in troubled times. The heart of  this city is pure fengshui, where a century ago the city walls lied back the hills. An outpost against the Mongolian tribes; the myth has it that here the phoenix stopped to rest during its journey. A space for cultural exchanges between Han and Tujia, Chongqing was the Chinese capital during the War of Resistance! The American flying tigers were in the sky while the statesmen called this place as the Shanghai on the Yangtze. And if later the industrial politics changed its shape, well, that discourse must be placed in a wider framework of assessment that should include an analysis of Chinese cities under a danwei perspective.

It has indeed so many things to be proud of: water and hills, the most beautiful girls of China, the red heart of patriotism, etc. Since 1997 it has assumed also a political and geographical role worthy of its history: not a small Shanghai anymore, but rather a small China. In many respects Chongqing leads now as model for the entire country, and despite the purges suffered afterwards, someone had the skills and the power to reinvent and reinvigorate a grey part of China. Referring to the dialogue with the population in terms of socialist orthodoxy, to what extent can the politics of the new central leadership be considered innovative? And that is why Chongqing for power games and proskynesis, had to disappear from the newspapers as happens to its alluring skyline when on summer mornings it is wrapped in the mist of its river. Anyway the fog sooner or later will clear up.

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