WUKAN.3 March 2012. Residents of a southern Chinese fishing village gathered on Saturday to elect a new administrative authority that many hail as a model for greater grassroots democracy in China following an uncompromising standoff over land grabs and abuse of power.
Anger at corrupt local officials turned to fury last September when villagers ransacked the Wukan government offices.
Wukan villagers listen to a speech by village leader Lin Zuluan after he met with a senior government official
While village elections have been permitted for decades, Wukan has pushed the boundaries, led by a visionary rebel village leader, Lin Zuluan, respected 67-year-old party secretary to unify the village against higher authorities.
Anger over land grabs has captured the attention of China’s leadership. Premier Wen Jiabao recently vowed to make village committee elections an authentic channel for public opinion, acknowledging China has failed to give adequate protection against rural land seizures.
Guangdong provincial authorities, led by ambitious Communist Party leader Wang Yang, intervened, naming the rebel leader Lin as party secretary in a surprising concession.
In February, Wukan elected a committee to oversee Saturday’s proceedings. The seven-member village committee, including a village chief and two deputies, will have power over local finances and the sale and apportioning of collectively owned village land.