Wukan Democracy Leaves Village Divided

After months of demonstrations over land-grabs in Guangdong province’s Wukan village in late 2011 garnered popular support in China and worldwide, high-ranking authorities compromised, caving to protest leaders’ demands and unleashing speculation that a new era of CCP discontent mitigation may be in its beginnings. Guangdong governor Wang Yang agreed to village elections, and The Telegraph’s Malcolm Moore reported villagers’ belief that Wukan would be hosting the country’s first “wholly transparent, completely open, democratic election.”  In September of last year, some villagers again demonstrated in frustration – while they now had a democratically elected village committee, they hadn’t yet seen a return of their land. As the one year anniversary of the Wukan elections approaches, Teddy Ng reports on resentment between villagers and officials, and doubts about readiness for democratic reform. From South China Morning Post:

“We are not satisfied,” said one villager. “We removed corrupt officials to get our land back, but have received nothing, and the new village committee has not given us an explanation.”

[…]Lin Zuluan , 69, was elected head of the village committee. But now he says that, while democratic governance was worth trying, he regrets taking part in the campaign, because villagers have unrealistic expectations of their leaders.

“I am old,” Lin said. “I can’t stand the pressure and fulfil all of their expectations. I’ve gained nothing from the whole campaign; I should not have taken part in it. Democracy is something that all people should pursue, but the implementation of it should be gradual, and there should be an environment that is conducive to it. We can’t let it happen overnight.”

Lin also said the villagers were not clear about their rights and had raised “unreasonable” demands, such as asking the committee to publicly release every detail of contracts it signs.

For more on Wukan, land-grabs, or democratic reform, see prior CDT coverage.

February 14, 2013 9:34 PM
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Categories: Politics, Society