Will the Boat Sink the Water? | Guidi Chen

Summary of: Will the Boat Sink the Water?: The Life of China’s Peasants
By: Guidi Chen


In ‘Will the Boat Sink the Water?’, Guidi Chen provides a heart-wrenching depiction of the life of China’s peasants, focusing on their struggles with local corruption, heavy taxation, and discriminatory policies. The summary of this powerful book presents a range of distressing stories, proving how injustice is pervasive in rural China. Discover how the central government’s failure to address the peasants’ needs and the widespread corruption among local bureaucrats leads to a continuous cycle of difficulties and suffering for rural citizens. Get ready to delve into the uncomfortable reality of rural China, where ordinary people are exposed to shocking brutality and abuse of power at the hands of local officials.

The Fatal Consequences of Challenging Authority in Rural China

Ding Zuoming, a peasant in Anhui, challenged the excessive taxes levied on villagers by local bureaucrats. When he voiced his objection and demanded an audit of village finances, he faced entrapment, false accusations, and was ultimately beaten to death at the hands of village officials. However, the story gained national attention and led to the prosecution of Ding’s murderers. This tragic tale highlights the harsh consequences of standing up against corrupt officials in rural China and the need for legal reform to protect the rights of peasants.

A Village’s Fight for Justice

In a remote village plagued by poverty, a group of heavily taxed and fined peasants demanded an audit of the village accounts. When their request was met with violence, the villagers became more determined and made repeated visits to township offices and village party leaders’ homes to demand audits. Despite official attempts to cover up the murders and shift the blame onto the victims, the truth eventually emerged thanks to media attention. Although the provincial High Court’s final decision disappointed the villagers, they persisted in their fight for justice.

The Burdens of China’s Peasants

This compelling summary delves into the history of China’s peasant class, outlining an array of taxing and abusive practices that have become the norm for many rural residents. The author details how the country’s leaders have long turned a blind eye to the plight of these long-suffering citizens, instead focusing on industrialization and military power. The summary outlines the many ways in which peasants have been subject to excessive taxes, theft of property, and even physical violence. The author concludes by highlighting the urgent need for drastic change, noting that rural unrest could snowball into national catastrophe if left unchecked.

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