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The events in Wukan this week

Posted: 12/17/2011 2:18 pm

12/18 17:00 update: Photo of one of three netizens detained as they arrived at Guangzhou’s Grandview Mall this afternoon to rally in support of the Wukan villagers and, via Hong Kong’s Ming Pao newspaper, the makeshift Chinese/foreign press center in Wukan, date unknown:

12/17 22:45 update: Activists in Hong Kong have uploaded photos from a small protest held there today in support of the Wukan villagers:

12/17 20:45 update: At Seeing Red in China, Yaxue Cao translates a number of Sina Weibo posts which offer a close look at some of the deeper problems in Wukan:

Wukan has become a specimen of [China’s] failure in village governance. A close look at the multiple protests since September shows that: 1. The position of party secretary has been held by one man named Xue Chang (薛昌) for over 40 years [...] 2. For years the land dealings have been monopolized by the party secretary, and the village strongmen collide with higher-level officials to establish a strong interest chain and a network that loots the village’s wealth without scruples.

12/17 20:00 update: Rachel Beitarie has posted the contents of a pamphlet being handed out by propaganda officials in Wukan reflecting the Shanwei government’s version of events:

In mid November…some villagers posted a message on the internet that “Wukan village temporary council committee plans to organize a petition demonstration on November 21 calling for attention from both domestic and international media”.

Read the rest here and contrast that with a France 24 interview yesterday with one Wukan local:

The local authorities are demanding that we agree to sign a contract selling our land. They’ve also asked the villagers to voluntarily go down to the police security bureau and confess their crimes in exchange for a cash reward. They’re doing this for two reasons – to stop the protests and also to use Wukan as an example. They want other villages in the region to know that they will be rewarded for complying with the authorities. No one in the village is going to do it, there’s too much solidarity.

12/17 19:00 update: Photos of today’s pagoda rally from Twitter user @dc_b

12/17 16:30 update: Two new series of photos of today’s village meeting followed by a procession through Wukan here and here.

Sorry to bring you this so late, but we have been following the ongoing situation in Wukan, on the outskirts of Shanwei in eastern Guangdong province.

December 12

Oiwan Lam breaks the news in English (disclosure: I also work for GVO) that villagers in Wukan have evicted Communist Party officials and police following the death of Xue Jinbo, who died the previous day under suspect circumstances while in police custody.

Xue had previously been elected by villagers as one of several representatives following clashes with police in September over land illegally acquired for a Country Garden estate development. Thousands attend Xue’s funeral while police place the village under siege.

Cover photo for this story and above video via ABC.

The banner reads: "Everyone has a responsibility in fighting corruption and graft." (Stringer / Courtesy of Reuters)

December 13

The Telegraph‘s Malcolm Moore arrives in Wukan and, declaring the village to be in “open revolt”, begins filing a series of exclusive reports, noting that the few remaining Party officials in Wukan have fled after police tried to retake the village the previous day using tear gas and water cannons.

Thousands of villagers again gather around a pagoda which now serves as village hall. Police prevent fishing boats from leaving the harbor.

Screen captures of a text message sent out December 9 aimed at vilifying Xue and other representatives recently elected by villagers to represent them in the land dispute.

December 14

Villagers begin rationing food, Moore reports, saying they have enough supplies to withstand the siege for 10 days, but have also opened smuggling routes to bring in food from neighboring villages.

Wukan government officials try negotiating with protesters, offering to release the remaining newly elected representatives and Xue’s body and to make no further arrests if villagers take down their banners and allow police and Party officials to return.

Around a dozen supporters of the Wukan villagers stage a small support rally in a shopping area in Guangzhou’s Tianhe district. Hong Kong-based China Sun TV broadcasts an exclusive interview with Xue’s daughter, Xue Jianwan.

December 15

Officials in Shanwei, naming names in Chinese state-owned media, warn that organizers of the resistance will be punished, at the same time announcing that the Country Garden housing estate development project has been suspended.

Villagers’ resolve is tested as 30 locals join the government in trying to persuade people to allow police and Party officials, offering food supplies. A blank document being used to collect signatures of those willing to surrender is dismissed as a trap and fears grow that defectors will resort to abducting resistance organizers.

The BBC does a video report and notes that Sina Weibo has begun filtering searches for the name of the village on Sina Weibo. McClatchy’s Tom Lasseter arrives in Wukan, VOA interviews Moore and China Media Project looks at how coverage of the events is being curbed in Chinese media.

Wall Street Journal reporter Brian Spegele: “In Lufeng today, discontent with local government land development was widespread as were calls for a central government investigation.”

December 16

The seventh day since Xue’s death, villagers hold a funeral ceremony per Chinese tradition, ensuring Xue’s soul will never come to rest by burying an empty coffin.

The New York Times reports from that morning’s daily rally—“We will defend our farmland to the death!”—in front of the pagoda, McClatchy publishes photos of the mourning ceremony and reports on the subsequent rally, Louisa Lim files her report for NPR from the village, and VOA brings us video of Thursday’s procession through the streets of Wukan.

McClatchy reporter Tom Lasseter: “Big increase in the number of Western journalists in #Wukan today.”

December 17

Lasseter shares a few photos that suggest that people from areas surrounding Wukan are able to bring in some food for the villagers. Beijing-based Israeli reporter Rachel Beitarie arrives at Wukan but is immediately intercepted by plainclothes police, and Financial Times reporter Ben Marino seems to have successfully made it into the village sometime yesterday. NPR’s Louisa Lim, meanwhile, was still sharing photos from today’s village rally as of 1:40 pm.

Photos found on Sina Weibo, since deleted, apologies in advance for any possible copyright violations.

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