December 18, 2011
Chinese Authorities Lose Control as Village Revolts
The over twenty-thousand residents of the village of Wukan in south China's Guangdong Province have expelled all local Communist Party authorities, including police, and blocked road access to the village.
The British newspaper The Telegraph was able to get a journalist on the ground in Wukan on Tuesday. Malcom Moore called the current incident the first time on record that the Party has "lost all control" in a situation of "open revolt." This marks the latest escalation in an ongoing confrontation between villagers and local Communist Party officials they've called corrupt and abusive.
For three months, Wukan residents have been staging occasional large-scale protests against a longstanding series of abuses committed by local Party officials. The villagers' biggest grievance was corrupt officials profiting from illegally selling the villagers' land.
The current intensified protest, including the expelling of all police and officials, came after the death in Party custody of Xue Jinbo. He was a Wukan resident who had served as a negotiator with authorities. Party officials claim Xue died of "cardiac failure." But Xue's family say there was evidence of torture on his body, including broken thumbs and bruises.
By Monday, locals had stopped an attempt by hundreds of police and security personnel to enter Wukan. Those forces retreated to a backup location three miles distant, and are now blocking all food and water from entering the town.
As of now, at the fifth day of what some are calling a rebellion, police remain blocked from entering, and some townspeople are making comments suggesting that the confrontation has become about more than just land seizures.
The Telegraph quoted one villager as saying "We are not sleeping. A hundred men are keeping watch. We do not know what the government's next move will be, but we know we cannot trust them ever again."
The situation in Wukan remains uncertain. Other media have managed to enter the village. But anything about Wukan is being quickly censored on the Chinese internet.