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  1. #1
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    Inside Wukan: the Chinese village that fought back

    Inside Wukan: the Chinese village that fought back

    Something extraordinary has happened in the Chinese village of Wukan.

    Thousands of Wukan's residents gathered for a second day in front of a triple-roofed pagoda that serves as the village hall Photo: MALCOM MOORE


    By Malcolm Moore, Wukan

    8:30PM GMT 13 Dec 2011

    For the first time on record, the Chinese Communist party has lost all control, with the population of 20,000 in this southern fishing village now in open revolt.

    The last of Wukan’s dozen party officials fled on Monday after thousands of people blocked armed police from retaking the village, standing firm against tear gas and water cannons.

    Since then, the police have retreated to a roadblock, some three miles away, in order to prevent food and water from entering, and villagers from leaving. Wukan’s fishing fleet, its main source of income, has also been stopped from leaving harbour.

    The plan appears to be to lay siege to Wukan and choke a rebellion which began three months ago when an angry mob, incensed at having the village’s land sold off, rampaged through the streets and overturned cars.

    Although China suffers an estimated 180,000 “mass incidents” a year, it is unheard of for the Party to sound a retreat.

    But on Tuesday The Daily Telegraph managed to gain access through a tight security cordon and witnessed the new reality in this coastal village.

    Thousands of Wukan’s residents, incensed at the death of one of their leaders in police custody, gathered for a second day in front of a triple-roofed pagoda that serves as the village hall.
    For five hours they sat on long benches, chanting, punching the air in unison and working themselves into a fury.
    At the end of the day, a fifteen minute period of mourning for their fallen villager saw the crowd convulsed in sobs and wailing for revenge against the local government.
    “Return the body! Return our brother! Return our farmland! Wukan has been wronged! Blood debt must be paid! Where is justice?” the crowd screamed out.
    Wukan’s troubles began in September, when the villagers’ collective patience snapped at an attempt to take away their land and sell it to property developers.
    “Almost all of our land has been taken away from us since the 1990s but we were relaxed about it before because we made our money from fishing,” said Yang Semao, one of the village elders. “Now, with inflation rising, we realise we should grow more food and that the land has a high value.”
    Thousands of villagers stormed the local government offices, chasing out the party secretary who had governed Wukan for three decades. In response, riot police flooded the village, beating men, women and children indiscriminately, according to the villagers.
    In the aftermath, the local government tried to soothe the bruised villagers, asking them to appoint 13 of their own to mediate between the two sides – a move which was praised. But after anger bubbled over again local officials hatched another plan to bring the rebellious village back under control. Last Friday, at 11.45 in the morning, four minibuses without license plates drove into Wukan and a team of men in plain clothes seized five of the village’s 13 representatives from a roadside restaurant.
    A second attack came at 4am on Sunday morning, when a thousand armed police approached the entrance to the village.
    “We had a team of 20 people watching out, and they saw the police searchlights. We had blocked the road with fallen trees to buy us time,” said Chen Xidong, a 23 year old. “They banged the warning drum and the entire village ran to block the police.”
    After a tense two-hour standoff, during which the villagers were hit with tear gas and water cannons, the police retreated, instead setting up the ring of steel around Wukan that is in force today. The village’s only source of food, at present, are the baskets of rice, fruit and vegetables carried across the fields on the shoulder poles of friendly neighbours.
    Then, on Monday, came the news that Xue Jinbo, one of the snatched representatives, had died in police custody, at the age of 43, from a heart attack. His family believe he was murdered.
    “There were cuts and bruises on the corners of his mouth and on his forehead, and both his nostrils were full of blood,” said Xue Jianwan, his 21-year-old daughter. “His chest was grazed and his thumbs looked like they had been broken backwards. Both his knees were black,” she added. “They refused to release the body to us.”
    Mr Xue’s death has galvanised his supporters and brought the explosive situation in the village to the brink. “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,” said Mr Chen. “I think they will try to prolong the situation, to sweat us out.”
    From behind the roadblock, a propaganda war has broken out. Banners slung by the side of the main road to Wukan urge drivers to “Safeguard stability against anarchy – Support the government!” Nearby, someone has scrawled, simply: “Give us back our land.”
    The news of Wukan’s loss has been censored inside China. But a blue screen, which interrupts television programmes every few minutes inside the village, insists that the “incidents” are the work of a seditious minority, and have now been calmed. “It is all lies,” said Ms Xue.
    Her brother, meanwhile, said life had improved since the first officials were driven out three months ago. “We found we were better at administration. The old officials turned out not to have had any accounts in their office, so they must have been swindling us. And we have a nightwatch now, to keep the village safe. We have all bonded together,” said Xue Jiandi, 19.
    With enough food to keep going in the short-term and a pharmacy to tend to the sick, the leaders of Wukan are confident about their situation.
    But it is difficult to imagine that it will be long before the Communist Party returns, and there are still four villagers in police custody.
    “I have just been to see my 25-year-old son,” Shen Shaorong, the mother of Zhang Jianding, one of the four, said as she cried on her knees. “He has been beaten to a pulp and his clothes were ripped. Please tell the government in Beijing to help us before they kill us all,”


    Inside Wukan: the Chinese village that fought back - Telegraph

  2. #2
    Member watdog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bangyai
    with the population of 20,000
    spit in the ocean.

  3. #3
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    Although China suffers an estimated 180,000 “mass incidents” a year, it is unheard of for the Party to sound a retreat.
    Or, apparently, to take a hint.

  4. #4
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    The start of a new era in China ? About time !
    Then again, they crush this sort of thing in Tibet


    By the way, hi everybody. I'm new here

  5. #5
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    brutal yea, they will be crushed.
    fokin bunch o socialist bastards.

  6. #6
    The Pikey Hunter
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    half a dozen tanks should do the job, then a couple of swift show trials. All back to normal.

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    hi there fruitbatman, good to have some new faces round here

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    I must admit, this is some inspiring stuff to read. Makes me want to grab the system by the balls and squeeze sometimes.

  9. #9
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    repeat of a tianamin sq. jeeez.

    ole wooden face keeping low.

  10. #10
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    Let's hope they don't bring in the big guns.
    These things could be easily settled by bringing in diplomatic negotiators with authority from Beijing.
    These little local emperors are fucking arseholes.

  11. #11
    loob lor geezer
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    Wukan seige: Chinese government vows to hunt down rebel village 'leaders'

    The Chinese government has vowed to hunt down and "severely punish" the men it believes are leading a rebellion in Wukan, the southern village that is now on the fifth day of a police siege.


    Armed Chinese police in riot gear man a roadblock on a route to the village of Wukan Photo: PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images

    By Malcolm Moore, in Guangdong province

    8:43AM GMT 15 Dec 2011

    Wu Zili, the acting mayor of Shanwei county, where Wukan is situated, said that the government would resolve the situation in the village "according to the law" and that it would "take the merits of the villagers' demands into consideration".

    However, he warned, "the authorities will firmly crack down on anyone who organises and incites the villagers".

    In a statement to the Chinese state media, the first published acknowledgement of the ongoing strife in Wukan, Mr Wu named two of the village's representatives, Lin Zulian and Yang Semao, as ringleaders of the protests.

    "Since December 8, Lin Zulian and Yang Semao organised and incited the villagers to set up barricades around the village. They did this to prevent officials from entering the village and to stop the perpetrators of the earlier riots from leaving the village and turning themselves into the authorities," he said.

    He added that the Chinese government was working to resolve the village's issues. But that "since Lin Zhulian and Yang Semao have spread rumours and encouraged these barricades our work has been set back."

    Mr Zu also said that an attempt by 1,000 armed police to enter Wukan last Sunday had been a response to the plight of 60 hotel guests who had been trapped behind the village's barricades.
    Since Sunday, Wukan has been besieged by a police cordon that is stopping food and water from entering the village, and villagers from leaving. All of the village's Communist party officials and police have fled, after a series of protests by the villagers, upset at having their land sold off to property developers from underneath them.
    Mr Lin, known in the village as Uncle Lin, lives in a three-story house in the centre of the village and is being guarded behind solid steel doors. One of the 13 representatives chosen to represent the village in negotiations with the government, alongside Mr Yang, he has been the channel through which the local government has been discussing a resolution.
    "He is a former army man with connections to the central government," said Mr Yang. "He is a man of substance who we all trust." Yesterday, despite the government's bombast, Mr Lin again received a liaison from the local authorities, although it was unclear what was discussed.
    Mr Yang, meanwhile, said he was aware that he was in an extremely dangerous position. "I know the danger, but the interests of the village come above my personal safety," he said. "But I am staying in busy central areas and always in a crowd because I am worried that they might try to snatch me. We will keep fighting."
    Mr Lin and Mr Yang appear to be the most senior members of the village, but Mr Yang said he was not an "organiser". As thousands of villagers took part in a marched rally through Wukan on Thursday, Mr Yang said he had cautioned them against it. "I do not approve, but this is a big village and not everyone listens to me," he shrugged.
    As it entered the fifth day of its police siege, and as foreign television cameras entered the village for the first time, the collective will of Wukan shows no sign of abating. The villagers, united by their anger at the death of one of their own, Xue Jinbo, in police custody, remain determined to fight against what they see as the theft of their land by their former officials and by property developers.
    The government's strategy now appears to try to divide the village by offering concessions to some while punishing others. Mr Zu said the local Party disciplinary commission has approved "the relevant investigation" into the village's former leaders, Xue Chang and Chen Shunyi. He added that the controversial property project that ignited the protests in September has been "temporarily frozen".
    He promised that it would only be restarted with the majority of villagers signing their support. To that end, the government has now begun collecting signatures in Wukan, offering food to those that sign on.
    A lorry with one ton of rice appeared outside the police cordon that has been choking off food and water to the town. Any villager who signed on could take some, the police offered. Then, last night, five villagers appeared in the town with 30 bags of rice and 30 tubs of cooking oil, offering them to others who left their signature.
    "They were bought off by the local government," said Chen Xidong, one of the villagers. "No one signed, however, apart from some seven-year-old kids who did not know better. We remain united."
    A spokesman for the Lufeng propaganda office, named Mr Lin, declined to comment on whether the government was deliberately choking off food to the village, or on whether the villagers would be compensated for their land. He said "We have published all of our actions on our website. We will continue to publish any further updates on our website."


    Wukan seige: Chinese government vows to hunt down rebel village 'leaders' - Telegraph

  12. #12
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    Wukan: protests across South China as riot police take on demonstrators in Haimen

    Riot police fired tear-gas and beat demonstrators who stormed government buildings in Haimen, a major town in southern China on Tuesday – just 75 miles from the rebel village of Wukan.


    Image 1 of 3
    Haimen residents block the highway outside the town Photo: AFP/Getty Images



    Image 1 of 3
    Residents of Haimen gather outside government offices to protest about a coal-fired power plant Photo: AFP/Getty Images



    Image 1 of 3
    The protest spread to the highway outside the town of Haimen Photo: AFP/Getty Images

    By Peter Simpson in Wukan

    11:04AM GMT 20 Dec 2011
    34 Comments


    Residents of Haimen, a 130,000-strong town in the province of Guangdong, are demanding a coal-fired plant be moved, claiming it is damaging their health.

    Web photos show a large gathering of people and riot police in a public square, and it is reported about 30,000 people in the town have gone on strike

    Demonstrators are claiming a 15-year-old boy had been killed and more than 100 others badly beaten by riot police, but this has yet to be confirmed.

    Government officials in the town have so far refused to comment on the incident.

    Haimen is located around 90 minutes away to the northeast of Wukan village, where residents are in open revolt against the local government after what they say is years of illegal land grabs.

    There is no indication that the protests are related, but they are part of an upsurge in social unrest in Guangdong, China's wealthiest province and the country's manufacturing hub.

    The Haimen riots broke out Tuesday morning – at the same time village chiefs from neighbouring small communities meet in Wukan.
    They warned senior Communist Party officials the government faces a wilder revolt if they crack down too hard on restive communities.
    "We have pleaded with the government not to come into Wukan and arrest people. If they fail to handle this properly, the neighbouring villages will be affected and this could cause larger unrest," one of the neighbouring village chiefs, who gave his name only as Mr Cai, said at the meeting.
    The caution comes as worried officials desperately seek an eleventh-hour cancellation of a potentially combustible protest on Wednesday on local Communist Party government offices.
    The under siege residents of Wukan village in south China's Guangdong province are demanding the body of land seizure campaigner, Xue Jinbo, whose suspicious death in custody over a week ago saw local party officials and police chased out.
    "We don't trust the government either. But we really hope the Wukan villagers can get on with lives in peace. We have told the government our villages sympathise with Wukan," Cai added.
    Unofficial Wukan representatives, Lin Zuluan and Yang Semao say they been summoned by the Guangdong provincial government for talks in a location of their choosing.
    Lin has agreed to meet with vice-Party Secretary of the province, Zhu Minggao in the village ahead of the planned march tomorrow morning.
    But the de-facto rebel leaders, who fear arrest, have issued a set of concessions in return for calling off the protest.
    "The government must give us legal status and remove our criminal suspect title. They must do publicly. They also remove the blockade around the village. And they must release three of our village campaigners from custody," Lin told the Daily Telegraph.
    The government is desperate to avoid a volatile public showdown with the Wukan residents and have increased the propaganda war.
    On local state TV, a ticker running across the bottom of the screen declares the village representatives criminal suspects and call on the community to stop its protests.
    The villagers, including Xue's relatives, are being bombarded by telephone calls from officials – warning them not to join the early morning protest rally.
    "They even called Xue Jinbo's family and threatened them with arrest if this continues," said Yang.
    However, the unofficial village leaders are likely to meet with resistance to call off the march even if their demands are met.
    Emotions remain high over the death of Xue and resolve remains strong in the village – where resident numbers are put at 12-20,000 – for the protests to continue.
    The main compensation demand for land seized by corrupt local officials working with businessmen has been temporally dropped.
    Even as Lin and Yang spoke of concessions, some villagers remained committed to their cause of retrieving Xue's body.
    "We'll still go ahead with the march," said one resident, in sentiments echoed by many.
    Led by Xue's family, the villagers plan to carry an empty coffin for their fallen martyr.
    Hundreds of armed riot police have been reported mustering in the area and many fear they will be deployed to end the stand off if negotiations fail.

    Wukan: protests across South China as riot police take on demonstrators in Haimen - Telegraph

  13. #13
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    Wukan unrest spreads to neighbouring village
    Tendar Tsering


    Wukan residents carry out a mass protest against corrupt officials and land grabs in southern China.
    (Photo/AFP/Getty Images)
    DHARAMSHALA, December 19: The ongoing standoff between villagers and Chinese security personnel in Wukan, Guangdong province has sparked similar protests in a neighbouring village.

    Over a thousand villagers in Longtou village in the southern Chinese industrial hub of Guangdong, protested against local government authorities, charging them of corruption and illegal land grabs on Tuesday.

    The villagers tore down fences surrounding their farmland illegally grabbed by the local authorities and sold to land developers, reported NTD, a New York Chinese broadcaster.

    The defiant residents had also brought placards protesting corrupt officials.

    Meanwhile, 13,000 villagers of Wukan on Saturday warned of a mass march on government offices in Lufeng, the nearby administrative center, if the local authorities failed to hand over the body of a village leader in the next five days.

    Xue Jinbo, 42, was abducted on December 9, on charges of rioting and later died in custody under mysterious circumstances. Although local authorities maintained that the village negotiator died of a heart attack, relatives who were allowed to view his body said it bore signs of abuse, including blood, bruises and a broken thumb.

    Since December 14, the village has been under a police blockade but Wukan residents have continued to lead mass protests, including a symbolic funeral with an empty coffin for Jinbo on December 16.

    For the last three months, Wukan villagers have been holding repeated large-scale protests against local officials and land grabs. Villagers accuse corrupt local officials of colluding with developers and selling their land to build factories without their consent and without offering compensation.

    Unrest in Chinese villages come weeks after China's top security chief Zhou Yongkang warned provincial officials of more unrest in China.

    China this year will be spending more on “public security” than the military for the first time. Public security, which covers state surveillance of its people and maintaining China’s paramilitary police, received a boost by nearly 14% to the tune of $95 billion.

    phayul.com

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    Could get nasty this....in fact, it almost certainly will .

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bangyai
    Could get nasty this....in fact, it almost certainly will .
    Maybe not, let us hope.

    Wukan protesters end action after Chinese government offers concessions


    Organisers of a Chinese village protest that lasted for more than a week have ended their action after senior officials offered concessions over a land dispute and a suspicious death in custody.
    Residents of Wukan in southern Guangdong province had warded off police and held protests over the death of activist Xue Jinbo, whose family rejected the government's claim that he died of natural causes, and against the seizure of farmland for development.
    After conciliatory talks with provincial officials, village representatives urged residents to pull down protest banners and resume normal life, provided the government kept its promises.
    "Because this matter has been achieved, we won't persist in making noise," village organiser Yang Semao told an assembly hall of village representatives and reporters. He said protest banners would be taken down.
    "They've agreed to our initial requests," Yang told Reuters. He added: "If the government doesn't meet its commitments, we'll protest again."
    However local leader Zheng Yanxiong – the top party leader in Shanwei, which oversees the area that includes Wukan – accused residents of making trouble and attacked them for talking to foreign journalists.
    "If you can trust in outside media, then pigs can climb trees," he said, according to Hong Kong University's China media project.
    "A responsible government like this, and you don't look to us. You look to a few rotten foreign media, and rotten foreign media, foreign newspapers and foreign websites. You confuse good and bad entirely."
    Senior officials negotiating with the villagers agreed to release three men detained over protests in September after a government office was vandalised, and to re-examine the cause of Xue's death, a village organiser said.
    Villagers believe he was subjected to abuse that left injuries, including welts, on his body. But the government said an autopsy showed he died of heart problems. Xue was detained over land protests that broke out in September.
    About 1,000 villagers gathered to hear another organiser, Liu Zuluan, explain the concessions from the government, which they greeted with applause.
    Although the Wukan rebellion was limited to one village, it attracted widespread attention.
    Wang Yang, the Communist party chief of Guangdong, acknowledged that the villagers had cause to complain in comments published on Wednesday in the Southern Daily, the official province newspaper.
    "There was something accidental about the Wukan incident, but also something inevitable," Wang said, according to the report.
    "This is the outcome of conflicts that accumulated over a long time in the course of economic and social development," said Wang, who analysts believe hopes for a position in China's next central leadership.
    Guangdong is a prosperous part of China. However, urbanisation and industrialisation have fuelled discontent among citizens, who often blame local officials for corruption and abuses.
    On Wednesday morning about 300 villagers had lined the sides of a road into the village, preparing to welcome Zhu Mingguo, the main official negotiating with them.
    A man holding a Chinese flag on a pole told the villagers over a loudspeaker: "Everyone welcome the Communist party's work team." Villagers unfurled a banner welcoming officials to help "solve the Wukan matter".
    The Southern Daily explained the concessions Zhu has offered villagers, including foreswearing punishment of rioters who "show sincerity in working with the government to solve the problems".
    Zhu also promised an impartial autopsy for Xue and "transparent" disclosure in the media of how the villagers' grievances will be addressed.
    In a separate protest on Tuesday in the town of Haimen residents demonstrated in front of government offices and blocked a highway over plans to build a power plant.
    Pictures on a Chinese microblogging site, Sina's Weibo service, which could not be verified, showed hundreds of people gathered in front of the offices as riot police kept watch.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Takeovers
    "If you can trust in outside media, then pigs can climb trees," he said, according to Hong Kong University's China media project. "A responsible government like this, and you don't look to us. You look to a few rotten foreign media, and rotten foreign media, foreign newspapers and foreign websites. You confuse good and bad entirely."
    Can't beat a good old bit of old fashioned racism

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    China rules protest village had 'valid' complaints
    31/12/2011

    Residents of a village in southern China who became a thorn in the Communist Party's side when they protested for more than a week over land grabs had "valid" complaints, state media reported.


    Villagers in Guangdong province's Wukan during a protest on December 17. The residents, who became a thorn in the Communist Party's side when they protested for more than a week over land grabs, had "valid" complaints, state media reported.

    In a bold display of revolt against officialdom earlier this month, villagers in Guangdong province's Wukan faced off with authorities for more than a week after driving out local party officials and electing their own leaders.

    They said officials had been stealing their land for years, and their anger boiled over when community leader Xue Jinbo died in police custody due to what authorities said was a heart attack but family members countered was a beating.

    The stand-off ended after a senior provincial official said their complaints about land seizures were "reasonable" and agreed to release three detained protest leaders as well as Xue's body.

    Quoting provincial investigators, the official Xinhua news agency reported late Friday that residents of Wukan had legitimate complaints against officials "over wrongdoing concerning land use and financial management."

    The report quoted investigator Yang Junbo, also the deputy head of Guangdong's land and resources department, as saying that a company called Lufeng Fengtian Livestock Products used more land than was officially approved.

    Another firm named Guangdong Yidazhou Group was in arrears with its land compensation to villagers, he was quoted as saying.

    According to another investigator, Xue Chang, former secretary of the village party committee, embezzled money to buy a vehicle for personal use, the report said.

    Guangdong has been hit by several bouts of violence in December, just as Chinese leaders are eager to keep a lid on social unrest as the Communist party prepares a once-in-a-decade transition of power that begins in 2012.

    bangkokpost.com

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    Journalists 'Kept Away' From Wukan
    Reported by Jiang Pei for RFA's Mandarin service and by Fung Yat-yiu for the Cantonese service.
    Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.
    2012-02-08

    Authorities restrict coverage of grassroots elections brought about through unrest in a southern Chinese village.


    A cell phone photo shows thousands of villagers protest a land grab by local officials in Wukan, Dec. 14, 2011.
    AFP

    China's state-controlled media has been effectively barred from covering forthcoming polls in the rebel Guangdong village of Wukan, journalists said via anonymous microblog posts this week.

    Residents of Wukan voted for new election officials last week, in the wake of several weeks of protests last year sparked by anger over official corruption and the sale of local farmland.

    Violent protests by the Wukan villagers against unscrupulous land grabs and rigged elections sparked rare concessions following an investigation by the provincial government of Guangdong, which concluded that most of the villagers' demands and complaints were fair.

    However, Chinese journalists have said via popular microblogging services that they have been turned back by officials after traveling to Wukan to cover the elections, which follow the appointment of key protest leader Lin Zuluan as village Communist Party secretary.

    A user identifying themselves as a Chinese journalist posted on the Sina microblogging service under the account name @tanweishan, saying that the Wukan polls would only be covered by a handful of Chinese journalists.

    Journalists trying to cover the polls had been subjected to police surveillance and monitoring of their phone calls, the user said.

    A second microblogger, also identifying themselves as a journalist, said that the authorities seemed to be in possession of confidential information about which reporters planned to travel to Wukan.

    Among those thrown out of Wukan was a journalist working for the Beijing-based Economic Observer, the Sina Weibo user, identified as @wangkaitongxue, said.

    Poll coverage

    As Wukan villagers voted on Feb. 1 for the election committee, many journalists were kept away from the proceedings, according to resident Zhang Jiancheng.

    "On polling day, they didn't set up a media reception station," Zhang said. "Even those Chinese journalists who had registered were forbidden from going to the polling station."

    Meanwhile, Xue Jinwan, the daughter of Xue Jinbo, whose controversial death in police custody sparked one of the largest protest rallies in the standoff, said she had been left in relative peace in recent days.

    "There have hardly been any reporters here in the past few days," she said. "They have all disappeared."

    A Shanghai-based journalist surnamed Cao said the government was keeping a tight rein on the media ahead of a crucial leadership transition at the 18th Party Congress later this year, in spite of an apparently enlightened response to the Wukan stand-off by provincial officials.

    "If they are controlling it, it comes against the background of the succession and the 18th Party Congress," Cao said. "They must control the media so as to preserve the power and authority of Party leaders."

    Hangzhou-based veteran journalist and blogger Zan Aizong said the media controls were probably the result of caution on the part of leadership hopeful and current Guangdong Party secretary Wang Yang.

    "Guangdong Party Secretary Wang Yang probably wants to get into the [Politburo] standing committee at the 18th Party Congress, so he's afraid of anything disruptive," Zan said.

    "If he were to lose control of the situation, he would never get elected to the standing committee, and all his good work would come to nothing."

    The nine-member standing committee is effectively the highest decision-making body in Chinese politics, and includes the president, premier, vice-president and vice-premiers.

    Cao said officials in any province would take all necessary steps to ensure that journalists didn't report negative news about their home patch.

    "Wherever power is involved, the government really acts decisively," he said. "If journalists want to come to Guangdong and report the bad stuff, then Guangdong will crack down on them."

    "Wukan is a sensitive issue and a negative news story for Guangdong."

    Grassroots democracy

    Chinese premier Wen Jiabao called for grassroots village democracy to be strengthened on a trip to Guangdong province last week, but he conspicuously failed to mention Wukan by name, an omission which Cao said provincial officials would be quick to pick up.

    "It was decided that Wukan could be a good model worth publicizing for the so-called reformist faction," Cao said. "But because it's supposed to be a positive model, they can't afford to publicize it."

    "If this attempt at liberalization is reported openly, it will be read as a sort of rebellion by Guangdong against the system, so that's why there is this contradiction," he said.

    Zan said China's Central Propaganda Department had recently forbidden Chinese journalists from reporting government-linked stories in other localities than their own.

    "Most local news outlets aren't truthful, but it's hard to completely ban negative news about another province, for example, Guangdong," he said. "They are interfering with newsgathering activities by reporters in order to preserve social stability."

    China came 174th on the Global Press Freedom index in 2011, compared with 171st in 2010 and 168th in 2009, according to the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders.

    Voting in the Wukan village committee elections of China's ruling Communist Party will take place on March 1.

    rfa.org

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