China's Wukan Elects Protest Leaders to Council (Bloomberg)
Monday March 5th, 2012
Two leaders of a protest over land grabs in a southern Chinese village were elected to replace the officials they helped oust, in a case that underscored the Communist Party’s challenges in defusing social unrest.
Lin Zulian was elected the village chief and Yang Semao his deputy, in a vote that saw thousands of people fill out ballots March 3, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported yesterday. Five other seats on the village committee in Wukan, located in southern China’s Guangdong province, were to be decided yesterday, it said.
The peaceful resolution of the standoff has been lauded in state media as China’s ruling Communist Party seeks to defuse local cases of unrest without sparking broader protests ahead of a leadership transition later this year. The standoff ended after the protesters reached a deal with Guangdong leaders including regional party secretary Wang Yang, seen as a rising star among China’s top officials.
“The government has surely taken a conciliatory approach because using force will not pacify social unrest,” Xiong Wei, founder of the Beijing New Enlightenment Research Center, a nongovernmental organization that advises villages on local elections, said by phone from Wukan before the vote. “The cost will be too huge. It will trigger too much public anger.”