One Year Later, Wukan Faces Same Challenges

After a minor protest in Wukan last Friday at the lack of progress made by the village’s democratically elected leaders since last year’s land grab demonstrations, The Wall Street Journal’s Josh Chin questions whether Wukan still has value as a blueprint for political reform in China:

Defenders of the Wukan experiment have explained the anniversary protests as the product of impatience – or what the Atlantic’s Brian Fung called an “expectations gap.” Having fought so hard and won, the argument goes, some villagers are holding their new leaders to unrealistic standards. After all, the new government has been in power for only six months.

Hong Kong University legal scholar Fu Hualing thinks the problem runs deeper.

Mr. Fu, one of a handful of scholars and activists who gathered in Hong Kong earlier this year in an effort to evaluate what had happened in Wukan, says he thinks the frustrations evident in the village last week highlighted the limited impact of bottom-up democracy in A political system like China’s.

“You have an election within the village, but the problem is not within the village itself. It’s how the local government handles issues affecting the village,” he says. In the case of Wukan, real power to decide land issues continues to reside with government officials at the county level and higher, he says.


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