Jonathan Watts: A bloody revolt in a tiny village challenges the rulers of China
From Guardian Unlimited: Jonathan Watts reports from Huankantou where protesters angry at corruption and poverty repelled 1,000 riot police. But now fear is replacing euphoria.
There is a strange new sightseeing attraction in this normally sleepy corner of the Chinese countryside: smashed police cars, rows of trashed buses and dented riot helmets.
They are the trophies of a battle in which peasants scored a rare and bloody victory against the communist authorities, who face one of the most serious popular challenges to their rule in recent years.
In driving off more than 1,000 riot police at the start of the week, Huankantou village in Zhejiang province is at the crest of a wave of anarchy that has seen millions of impoverished farmers block roads and launch protests against official corruption, environmental destruction and the growing gap between urban wealth and rural poverty.