For anyone who follows the goings-on in China, there’s an important story happening right now. A small fishing village, Wukan, in southern Guangdong province, is in open revolt after police authorities allegedly killed a village leader. Villagers had been angry because local party officials were illegally seizing land and then reselling it to developers. One of the village leaders, Xue Jinbo, was taken into police custody and died. Police attributed it to a heart attack. His bruised and battered body says otherwise. Villagers are now in open revolt, and the local party apparatus has responded by blockading Wukan. No food can get in or out. The last estimate I saw indicated that there was a little over a week’s amount of food left. Still, the villagers are undeterred:
Note that we as Americans should be concerned about the land seizure issue because we are complicit. I haven’t been able to suss out whether the developers in Wukan are building factories where western goods are manufactured, but the fact is land seizures for development have been going on all over Guangdong province for some time to support devlopement. Not coincidentally, Guangdong is the source of most of the consumer goods made in China and shipped to the US. Our consumer habit support the land seizure practice.
British journalist Malcolm Moore has been posting fantastic on the scene reports from inside Wukan. Unfortunately he had to leave overnight because he thought his presence was beginning to endanger people. But, other Western and Chinese journalists are flooding in to fill the void left by his departure.
The question remains– how will Beijing respond? Beijing typically could care less about the view the West has of its human rights record, and the presence of Western journalists won’t deter Beijing from rolling out the tanks a la Tienanmen Square. Beijing is mindful, however, of the Arab Spring, and doesn’t want to inadvertantly make martyrs out of the Wukan villagers. In the past, it was easier to suppress news of a village massacre. With the advent of social media, more Chinese can get the word out even with the massive controls placed on the internet in China.
For more background, here are links to some of Malcolm Moore’s reports:
And, links to a fantastic blog, chinageeks.org, which has raw footage of some of the protests, including police beatings of villagers:
Please watch what’s going on in Wukan. It could be an important turning point in modern China.