Wukan protesters win rare concessions in China


Villagers listen to a speech by village leader Lin Zulian (L) at a rally after he met with a senior government official and reached an agreement over illegal land grabs and the death in custody of a local leader in Wukan, Guangdong Province on December 21, 2011. Chinese authorities have agreed to release three villagers detained for leading September protests against land grabs, a community spokesman said December 21 after meeting a senior official.



Chinese authorities have calmed protesters in Wukan, a southern fishing village, by offering an unusual set of concessions that include releasing detainees and returning some confiscated land to farmers, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The move, which had seemed unlikely, will be watched closely by Wukan leaders to see if officials keep the promises they made on Wednesday and whether it will end the nation’s boldest civil unrest this year, WSJ reported. Zhu Mingguo, a senior Communist Party leader in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, met with Wukan leaders about the uprising caused by alleged land grabs from officials.

Read more at GlobalPost: Wukan, Chinese village, under police seige: reports

More than 10,000 Wukan residents claim land has been seized illegally and sold by the local government to developers over the past 10 years, CNN reported. When a recent sale of nearly 1,000 acres was made, villagers began to protest and drove out government officials last week. They also set up obstacles to prevent the police from entering the village, which has 20,000 residents, CNN reported.

"Because this matter has been achieved, we won't persist in making noise," village organizer, Yang Semao, told an assembly hall of village representatives and reporters, referring to the protests, Reuters reported. He also said protest banners would be removed.

Read more at GlobalPost: China's unusual riots

"They've agreed to our initial requests," Yang told Reuters. But he added, "If the government doesn't meet its commitments, we'll protest again."

Four protesters being held by police would be released over the next few days, Guangdong's deputy Communist Party secretary Zhu Mingguo told the Associated Press. Zhu also said the government would buy back 66 acres of farmland and return the land to the villagers. According to AP, one detainee died while in police custody, infuriating villagers who believe he was beaten, although authorities said he died of cardiac failure. Zhu also agreed to launch a new investigation into the death.

Police also withdrew from road checkpoints on Tuesday night, and villagers removed tree trunks they had used as road blocks. It is unclear why local officials are giving in to the protesters, but it is a major turnaround from what has been going on in the last few days.