China Punishes 20 Officials after Village Protests

Four months after large-scale protests in Wukan, Guangdong, led to elections for new village leaders, the authorities have punished previous leaders and removed two from the Communist Party. From Xinhua:

Xue Chang, former Party chief of Wukan, and Chen Shunyi, former head of the village committee, were also ordered to hand over illegal gains of 189,200 yuan (30,031 U.S. dollars) and 86,000 yuan respectively, said Zeng Qingrong, deputy head of the supervision department of Guangdong Province.

Wukan grabbed international headlines last year when the small village’s residents staged three waves of large-scale rallies in four months to protest against village officials’ alleged illegal land grabs, corruption and violations of financing and election rules.

In December, after a senior provincial official held direct talks with villagers, order was restored. Re-elections were held earlier this year while the investigation into the villagers’ complaints continued.

Zeng said after three months of investigation, authorities found that Wukan’s former officials were involved in illegal transfers of land use rights, embezzling collective properties, accepting bribes and rigging village elections.

Businessweek reports that 20 officials in total have been disciplined:

Six other former village officials and a dozen higher-level officials were also punished, Xinhua said, but did not provide details.

[…] Xinhua said authorities found that the village’s former officials had been involved in illegal transfers of land use rights, embezzling property that was collectively owned, accepting bribes and rigging village elections.

In March, two of the protest leaders were elected to run the village in a much-watched election that reformers hoped would promote democracy as a way to settle many of the myriad disputes besetting China.

Many experts, however, said it’s far too soon to say if political leaders will summon the will to replicate Wukan’s experience elsewhere.

Radio Free Asia also reports on plans by the new officials to return at least some of the ill-gotten public land, which was the cause of the initial protests:

Zhu had told the committee that “a portion” of the lost farmland would be returned to the village—which grabbed international media attention late last year with its feisty defense of its territory against thousands of armed police and its highly organized protests and rallies—by May 1, he added.

Villagers present at the meeting had applauded the announcement, taking it to be evidence of sincerity among provincial officials, Zhuang said.

He said members of the newly elected committee, none of whom have previous government experience, had their work cut out for them since being elected last month.

Read much more about Wukan via CDT.

April 25, 2012 10:50 AM
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Categories: Politics