Protest marks souring of Chinese democracy experiment

WUKAN (TIP): One of China’s most celebrated experiments in grass-roots democracy showed signs of faltering on September 21, as frustrations with elected officials in the southern fishing village of Wukan triggered a small and angry protest. On the first anniversary of an uprising that gave birth to the experiment, about 100 villagers rallied outside Wukan’s Communist Party offices to express anger at what they saw as slow progress by the village’s democ atically elected governing committee to resolve local land disputes. “We still haven’t got our land back,” shouted Liu Hancai, a retired 62-year-old party member, one of many villagers fighting to win back land that was seized by Wukan’s previous administration and illegally sold off for development. The small crowd, many on motorbikes, was kept under tight surveillance by plain-clothed officials fearful of any broader unrest breaking out. Police cars were patrolling the streets. “There would be more people here, but many people are afraid of trouble and won’t come out,” Liu told Reuters. A year ago, Wukan became a beacon of rights activism after the land seizures sparked unrest and led to the sacking of local party officials.

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