The following report, printed on page 16 of today’s Nanfang Daily, the official newspaper of the Guangdong Provincial Committee of the CCP, is the only news report in China’s press today on the ongoing stand-off between villagers and authorities in Wukan Village.
The report is essentially an announcement by the top Party leader in the prefectural-level city of Shanwei that the negotiations for an end to tensions will now be principally the business of Shanwei, not of Lufeng, the county in which Wukan Village is located. The bottom line: this hot potato has been bumped up a level on the Party power ladder.
The appearance of the article in Nanfang Daily is most likely meant to reflect to leaders around the country that Guangdong is prioritizing the handling of this crisis.
December 20, 2011
By Xin Junqing (辛均庆), Hong Jiyu (洪继宇)
Nanfang Daily reporting — Yesterday, the Shanwei (汕尾) Party Committee and Shanwei Government held a press conference concerning the Wukan incident (乌坎事件). Shanwei Party Secretary Zheng Yanxiong (郑雁雄) said at the meeting that the [Shanwei] party committee and [Shanwei] government had decided to elevate the pledges and commitments of the Lufeng [county-level] party committee and government concerning the demands of the villagers and solutions to the issue, and implement these at the Shanwei [prefectural] Party and government level. Moreover, the original land for use by Country Garden (Holdings) Limited, which is already frozen, will be negotiated by the [Shanwei] government, compensation will be made for those who lost out in the land requisition, the 404 mu [269,000 square meters] of land involved in this incident will be returned, and new developments will be carried out in consideration of the views of planning departments and villagers, fully protecting the interests of villagers.
It is reported that on December 18, principal leaders from the Party and government of Shanwei city held a face-to-face meeting with more than 500 cadres, masses, teachers, student representatives and others from Wukan Village and surrounding areas. Additionally, Wukan Village party branch leader Xue Chang (薛昌) and village committee director Chen Shunyi (陈舜意) were detained and interrogated (双规) on December 16 by discipline inspection authorities. [NOTE: Detention and interrogation by discipline inspectors, known as shuang’gui, is a disciplinary measure for Party officials that lies outside the normal legal system.]
Zheng Yanxiong pointed out that the incident in Wukan village emerged from the masses being unhappy with the party branch chief and principle responsible persons in the village party committee who had remained in their posts too long, [and the villagers] out of concern for a change in their interests, demanding the protection of their own legal rights and interests in the management of village affairs, and in the transfer of land-use rights and the rise in value of land whose use had already been transfered. The nature of the incident, [Zheng said], is that of an internal interest dispute within the village, and [Zheng remains] confident that it will be handled as it should (相信一定会处理好).