Wukan 2.0? Zhejiang Villagers Protest Land Grabs

Villagers marching against land grabs in the streets of two villages in Zhejiang’s Cangnan County say they have modeled their tactics after Wukan, the Guangdong village which evicted local Communist Party authorities over similar complaints late last year. From NTDV’s video report, which included footage from the protests that has emerged on Chinese social media:

[Lu Yeqin, Villager]:
“Officials from the village sold land. This land originally belonged to the villagers. After it was sold, the [villagers] were not given any money for it. The villagers are upset, and after all, this land was passed down through their family business. They rely on the land for their livelihood, but now it has been sold.”

Police did not stop more than 3000 villagers from marching to the village committee, but neither have the villagers received a response from local officials.

Local resident Mrs. Ma says the turnout has been huge.

[Mrs. Ma, Villager]:
“Everyone from the village came out. Today we will march again, and the whole village should come. I have even seen kids coming out, passing by my building.”

The Chinese blogosphere is buzzing with chatter about the demonstrations in Panhe East and West, where tensions between local residents and officials have followed a Wukan-like trajectory. From Tea Leaf Nation, which also posted images that had surfaced on Sina Weibo yesterday:

As reported on the Internet portal China.com, the Panhe Village Committee spent the last several years selling off piece after piece of Panhe’s land, all without the villagers’ knowledge. On June 11, 2011, a Wenzhou copper company brought thugs and local police as it began to mine pieces of ancestral land, leading to a confrontation that saw villagers injured, including women and the elderly. The report further states that after villagers’ attempts to report the matter were ignored, they retaliated on October 16, 2011 by attacking the property of another local company. In response, the report continues, the local government arrested nine villagers, two of whom are still in custody.

World Journal, a popular Chinese-language newspaper in North America, reports that government officials and police fled the small village of approximately 5,000 in October of last year following a violent confrontation with villagers in which more than ten were arrested. The reports agree that villagers’ demands for compensation were substantially ignored by authorities.

According to World Journal, the Wukan uprising’s ultimate success inspired Panhe villagers to decide to hold widespread demonstrations starting February 1.  Since that time, the report continues, demonstrators have circled the village unmolested. The street demonstrations shown in photographic accounts include demonstrators waving banners with slogans such as, “Denounce the Local Panhe Government’s Deceit Of The Masses,” “Down With Corrupt Officials,” and “Reselling Land And Destroying Fertile Farmland Is A Heinous Crime.”

See also CDT coverage of a new survey in which 43% of farmers reported being victims of land grabs. The Council on Foreign Relations’ Elizabeth Economy wrote Tuesday that “more Wukans are on China’s horizon” unless China creates a real system of official accountability or enforces the rule of law.