On June 26 before dawn, hundreds of riot police clashed with the villagers in Zuotan, part of the city of Foshan in Guangdong Province. Police cars were smashed and flipped over. Many villagers were hospitalized for injuries, including an 81-year-old veteran of the Korean War who was beaten unconscious. Demanding to speak with the village secretary in person about the cheap sale of land [the villagers currently live on and cultivate], thousands of residents surrounded the village Party headquarters, gathering in the afternoon and staying through the early hours of the next morning. At 2 a.m., several hundred riot police arrived and began beating unarmed villagers in an attempt to escort the village secretary away. Residents defended themselves with bricks. The riot police eventually pulled out.
Factors in the conflict:
- Corruption among village officials in Zuotan and the futility of citizens’ appeals to the government lead the villagers to spontaneously organize the protest.
- Zuotan officials secretly arranged for the sale of land in three neighborhoods to developers. The officials thought they could claim every inch of land, never once considering that anyone could read the announcement of these arrangements on government websites. The news enraged the villagers, spurring them to protest.
Some netizens speculate that the village secretary is a “naked official” whose family lives in Australia. Sina Weibo has already blocked “Zuotan” (左滩) from search results and deleted posts showing photos from the conflict.
Photos from the scene via Weibo:
Via CDT Chinese.