China: Pinsong Wang

Without Jinsha River and without the village, we will not be able to keep our little home here!

— Pinsong Wang

Born in 1924, Wang Pinsong is from Jinjiang Town, Shangri-la County, Yunnan Province. She contributes everything she has to help indigenous people and to unite people of different ethnic groups, including Naxi, Hmong, Lisu, Tibetan, Pumi, Bai, and Han, so that they can fight for their rights.

In 2004 the rights of indigenous people along the Jinsha River, including the right to live in that area, the right to preserve their living environment, and the right to development, were directly threatened by the expansion of corporations and modern development projects, particularly a hydropower project that was to be set up in the area. Wang Pinsong helped the indigenous people to fight for their rights. Her age did not allow her to be in the frontline but it did not deter her from participating actively in the struggle. Wang Pinsong was raised under the “new-style” education in the late 1930s in China. She has never engaged in so-called “heroic” endeavors, nor is she known for her eloquence in articulating her aspirations. But she is a brave woman who is not afraid of power or authority; and no difficulties have ever stopped her from doing what she believes is right. She insists that “to gain a good life for every ethnic group” is a task of righteousness and will eventually be achieved. She forgives people who persecuted her and her husband, and actively builds solidarity with others. She is sensitive to generational differences and believes in working with the young. She is also a good mother and grandmother, despite facing many difficulties. For 70 years she has been engaged in agricultural labor in the community and she still works hard every day. This is what makes her such an inspiring role model for people around her and ensures that she is much loved by the community.