Saturday, March 3, 2012

Wukan: China's rebel village holds council polls

Residents of a southern Chinese fishing village have gathered to elect a new administrative authority that many hail as a model for greater democracy in China following an uncompromising confrontation over land grabs and abuse of power.

Saturday's vote for the committee governing Wukan went ahead with official approval after a long campaign by local people to end what they say was years of corrupt rule by Communist Party officials.

Wukan, located on the Guangdong coast, has emerged from nowhere as a symbol of rural activism and electoral reforms nationwide, embracing rare freedoms granted by provincial authorities in December to defuse a major flashpoint.

Al Jazeera's Melissa Chan reporting from Beijing, said this model of democracy "is not going to spread across China".

However, what is important is that "it is happening in this one village and it is starting a conversation in China, a place where people are electing their village leaders today", she said.

"And that is quite something in authoritarian China".

Anger at corrupt local officials turned to fury last September when villagers ransacked the Wukan government offices. more