The Siege of Wukan: If you can’t govern a village, how can you govern what is Under Heaven?

Wukan (乌坎) may best be translated as “Black Ridge”, and it is a fishing village in the vicinity and administrative area of Lufeng City (陆丰市), a county-level city in the Shanwei municipal region (汕尾), Guangdong Province. After months of tensions about land requisitions, protests starting in September this year led to the Communist cadres and administration fleeing Wukan.

The village was then stormed by riot police, according to the Daily Telegraph, after which the officials switched from stick to carrot, asking the villagers to appoint 13 representatives with whom they could negotiate – only to seize and arrest five of them on December 9. On December 12, news broke that Xue Jinbo (薛锦波), one of the five arrested, had died in police custody. His body reportedly showed signs of torture. Since December 11, the village has been under siege, without food, water, and electricity, after police had made an unsuccessful attempt early in the morning to recapture the village.

Radio Taiwan International (RTI) quotes from an Oriental Daily News (東方日報, Hong Kong) article of Friday (today) which gives an account of the events from September until now.  At the beginning, the “Wukan incident” had been just another matter of corruption, according to the article, where proper handling by the authorities could have won the villagers’ hearts and minds back. But nothing had been done about the corrupt officials, and instead, foreign hostile forces (境外敌对势力介入) were used as an excuse to explain why the situation deteriorated and finally went out of control. This had triggered the wrath of Heaven and the resentment of men (天怒人怨 – i. e. strong resentment). RTI quotes Oriental Daily as asking if the authorities, the current Wukan incident, are focusing on serving the people, or on serving corrupt officials – and with a question which would be damning even in a European country, but particularly in the celestial kingdom:

When it comes to Wang Yang (汪洋, Guangdong Province’s party secretary), “if it is difficult to rule a village, how can you rule over what’s under heaven?” (“一村尚且难治,又何以治天下?”)

RTI’s article is written in simplified characters, for the benefit of potential Chinese readers (if they can get over the firewall). In turn, Sina.com‘s Taiwanese website informed its Taiwanese readers on Thursday that according to the BBC, China had started to block microblog information on Wu Kan, which had led to internet users writing “WK” instead of the Chinese characters for Wukan.

Update [September 6, 2012]: the Sina article linked above has since been removed. See the two screenshots below for the original article:

online article, 1

online article, 1

online article, part 2

online article, 2

The siege of Wukan includes the villages fleet of fishing boats, according to the BBC report quoted by Sina.com (Taiwan). The BBC in turn is quoted as quoting a Daily Telegraph reporter [Malcom Moore, apparently – see Daily-Telegraph link in this post’s second paragraph] who had visited the village, and who had said that twenty-thousand people in Wukan were in open resistance, and that the authorities were completely out of control.

Sina.com (Taiwan) also quotes China News Service (中新社), China’s second-largest news agency. China News Service quotes Shanwei’s acting mayor, as saying that the legitimate demands of the people had already been resolved, or were in the process of being resolved.

It remains to be seen if this means that the people of Wukan will be starved into submission, and a crackdown will start right away, beginning with the surviving twelve village negotiators who once dared to stick their necks out, or if the authorities will choose to serve the people (as the Oriental Daily puts it), rather than avenging their official’s humiliation. (They may also choose to take the earlier approach first, and the second approach later, once national and international attention has abated.)

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Related

» Scalpel gives Way to Hatchet, Sinostand, Dec 16, 2011
» Blocked List, Things You Don’t Know, Dec 14, 2011

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Updates / Related

» The Foreign-Devils Pact, Malcolm Moore, Dec 15, 2011

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4 Responses to “The Siege of Wukan: If you can’t govern a village, how can you govern what is Under Heaven?”

  1. Transparency or Chaos? They can chose in Wukan and they will have chose in many other villages.

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