Wukan: New Villager’s Committee Faces Tough Land Issue
On March 4, Wukan Village in Guangdong held its 2nd round of voting for a Villager’s Committee. Hong Ruichao was elected as the deputy chief.
The new committee members are Sun Wenliang, Chen Suzhuan, Zhuang Liehong and Zhang Jiancheng. A watchdog committee consisting of 9-11 members will be
voted in within one month. The newly elected committee members shall fulfill their election promise to take back the lands that local officials sold secretly and illegally.
Guangdong;s Wukan Village has held three phases of elections during the past month. on Feb. 3, the election committee was elected; on February 11, voting was held for villager representatives; and on March 3 there was the election for villager’s committee.
In the first round of elections for a village committee, only one chief and one deputy chief were voted in. On March 4, villagers went to the polls in the
2nd-round election. Xue Jianwan, daughter of Xue Jinbo, quit the race for
deputy chief, when she was opposed by her family members.
In the last 20 years, all the election candidates of mainland villages were internally selected by officials. The vote’s outcomes have never been changed no matter whether the villagers voted or not. Wukan villagers’ persistence in fighting back has forced the Beijing regime to yield, the villagers took back voting rights. Wukan’s voting, labeled China’s first rural democratic election,
is now under the world’s spotlight. The community concerns itself with whether this success can repeated elsewhere in China.
March 5 is the open day for the Guangdong delegation of the National People’s Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Wang Yang, the CCP Secretary of Guangdong, was asked by several foreign reporters about the Wukan election.
According to Wang, Wukan’s voting proceeded in line with the Organic Law of the Villagers Committees and the agreed Method for Selecting the Villager Committee of Guangdong Province. Wang claimed that Wukan’s election just put the law
into practice. A specific province-wide conference may be held in the second half of this year, said Wang Yang. The meeting will use the experiences and lessons from Wukan’s voting experience to guide the construction of village-level administration.
Yet, can the politician’s promise be trusted?
Chengdu democracy activist, Pu Fei, says that Wukan’s election is still one that was held inside the CCP system. Pu Fei hopes the outcome that Wukan has achieved so far can be extended.
Pu Fei: “I only hope that this trend can be maintained so as to offer us a better way to solve problems. This opportunity should not be ruined.”
The new village committee members vowed to get back village lands that were taken. However, it is deemed not an easy task to take back the vested interests of corrupt authorities. Ma Xiaoming, a veteran media professional, thinks that
the return of farmlands relies on the villagers’ persistence in continuing to fight.
Mr. Yang, a Wukan villager, expressed no confidence in this solution.
Mr. Yang (Wukan villager), “It can’t tell yet… It’s uncertain that we shall be able to get (the lands) back."
Will the new villager’s committee be able to continue to safeguard the rights of the villagers?
Ma Xiaoming says that the outcome cannot be predicted at the moment.
Ma Xiaoming: “There’re lots of village leaders who were elected by the villagers. But with their change of status, and facing big temptations as to interests, can they still speak for the villagers and safeguard their rights?
Let’s wait and see."
The land issue ignited the outbreak of the Wukan protest in Sept. 2011, The newly elected village committee will soon have to deal with the tough land problem. Various conflicts of interest are expected to emerge after Wukan’s election. Will the Wukan mass protest be sparked once again by these conflicts ? Let us see what happens next.
NTD reporters： Zhou Yulin, Li Ting and Zhu Di