Update on Wukan: The Protestor & The Party
Lin Zuluan, courtesy of David Gray/Reuters
In the weeks since the residents of Wukan Village took the the streets to protest government land seizures and the death of a village representative, negotiations between Wukan’s rebelliously self-governing body and Guangdong Province Party officials have squelched the protests and led to an uncertain new era. While the circumstances surrounding the death of Xue Jinbo—a Wukan resident selected to represent the villager’s demands while the protests were still going on—remain unresolved, a few notable developments have been made in the post-protest calm.
The New York Times‘s Michael Wines reports on an unlikely new CCP official selected out of the upheaval in Wukan:
The new party secretary is Lin Zuluan, a 67-year-old retired businessman whom local party members chose in an election on Sunday. Mr. Lin leads an ad hoc committee that has run the village since Dec. 11, when town leaders began to flee rather than confront thousands of enraged residents.
The outcome of this unexpected appointment is yet to be seen, though some progress has been made in restoring the villagers’ land:
In the more than three weeks since then, Guangdong officials have promised to return roughly one-fourth of the 6.8 square miles of village land that residents claim was illegally sold or leased in long-term contracts by Wukan’s previous leaders, one of Mr. Lin’s deputies, Yang Semao, said by telephone on Monday. “I think they sold far more” than the province intends to return, Mr. Yang said. “But I have no way to determine this.”
Though reactions to unjust land seizures were the catalyst to the Wukan protests, much will surely be made of other yet-unresolved issues: namely, the unknown cause of Mr. Xue’s death and the larger social impact of Wukan’s bold stand, as well as a protest leader’s subsequent cooperation—and now participation—with the local Party.