'The Wukan Model'


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.



China's reaction to all-out revolt in the southern city of Wukan last month is drawing new questions about how the Communist Party's rulers will handle future incidents.

The negotiated settlement to Wukan's uprising differed from most other incidents, where China typically moves in and quells dissent with force. China-watchers are now trying to read the tea leaves about what this means for future mass protests in a country that's been estimated to have nearly 200,000 year (police no longer release the actual number).

In an essay for the Jamestown Foundation, author Willy Lam said the future lies in whether China willing to uphold the rule of law. In a long and thoughtful essay on the Wukan incident and its handling, Lam notes, however, that the Communist Party of China (CCP) might not be operating so differently that it has in the past.

"However, it is important to note that...members of the ruling elite have not given up the CCP authorities’ time-tested strategy of tackling dissent: to switch between soft and tough tactics in accordance with the requirement of different circumstances," wrote Lam.