Villagers in Wukan Go to the Polls After Protest


Thousands of villagers in a Chinese city walked to the polls today for new leadership, after protests over land grabs and corruption expelled local officials and won support from provincial government last year.

About 4,000 eligible people in Wukan, a coastal village in southern China voted on Wednesday to select an independent election committee that will oversee forthcoming ballots.

The eleven villagers who will make up the election committee will not be allowed to run for the village committee.

Villagers in Wukan began protest on Sept. 11 and 22 last year, against local authorities for the abuse of power and the illegal sales of hundreds of hectares of farmland, and continued into Novemer.

The death of Xue Jinbo, a villager who was suspected of organizing the protests in police custody, amplified intensions between villagers and local officials.

Officials in Guangdong Province at the helm of Wang Yang, the provincial party boss and one of the country’s most prominent officials, acknowledged that there had been mistakes at the local level and granted the village a chance for new leadership, about two weeks after the standoff.