With some villagers in Wukan conceding that “the honeymoon is over” as their democratically elected leaders grapple with the challenge of resolving the grievances that sparked mass land grab protests late last year, David Bandurski of The China Media Project reports that one such official has publicly announced his resignation:
An outspoken youth leader during protests in Wukan last year over corruption and land grabs by local officials, Zhuang Liehong was detained on December 3, 2011, and held for 20 days. The standoff between villagers and local authorities worsened through December, until provincial officials finally intervened to broker a compromise resulting in free and transparent elections in March this year.
According to today’s Weibo post by Zhang Jianxing, Zhuang submitted his resignation to the village committee on October 21 because he felt he was “unable to handle the wishes of the villagers from within the village committee.” Zhang added:
“Lately, the upheaval in Wukan is quite serious. Lin Zuluan (林祖銮) [the leader of the revolt, now the elected Party chief] avoids going to work. . . Is change happening all over again in Wukan?
Bandurski also included a photo of Zhuang’s resignation letter, which had emerged on the Weibo account of Wukan resident Zhang Jianxing. Zhuang specifically calls out Lin Zuluan, the man who led last year’s protests and was selected as both Wukan party chief and then head of the village committee in the March elections.
Zhuang Liehong had been one of the more vocal activists in Wukan, both during the protests and as a participant in the village’s democracy experiment. Bandurski cites a March article in the Sydney Morning Herald which mentions Zhuang:
”I will retrieve the land that rightfully belongs to Wukan villagers!” said Zhuang Liehong, 28, in a speech punctuated with fist-pumps that whipped the crowd into a frenzy. Mr Zhuang, who was also involved in the protests, told The Saturday Age that he was detained by police for 20 days, and threatened with being ”hung up in the air and beaten half to death” for failing to co-operate.
Radio Free Asia also quoted Zhuang in April, after Guangdong vice provincial secretary Zhu Mingguo promised to return some of their lost farmland by May 1, as saying that the committee had not received much help in reclaiming the land:
“It has been tough,” he said. “The land was sold off by people who were previously in charge here, so it’s a question of what evidence to show and what tactics to employ to get it back from the people [who bought it].”
He said the committee had received scant help from other officials. “Everything depends on us here at the village committee,” he said.
“We can’t get the land back, so we’ll have to see what the [provincial] government is made of.”
As recent frustrations indicate, the May 1 deadline came and went without the return of the villagers land. See also previous CDT coverage of last year’s Wukan protests.