Guangdong: Wukan village under siege, more factories occupied

Security forces have since Dec. 11 blocked roads leading to the village of Wukan, in China’s Guangdong province, after residents chased out police. Residents have gathered in the center of the village, the scene of a peasant protest movement over a land grab by local officials. They are demanding negotiations with the central government to resolve the dispute. Chinese authorities have again resorted to pre-emptive electronic action, blocking Internet searches for “Wukan.” Users of micro-blogging site Sina Weibo say searches for “Wukan” returns a message reading: “According to relevant law, regulations and policies, search results for Wukan cannot be displayed.”

Security forces have used tear-gas and water cannons in clashes with Wukan protesters, who are armed with bamboo sticks. Several villagers have been detained—some being held incommunicado and without charge; at least one has died in police custody. With the police drive from the town and the roads cut off, the situation is fast escalating after steady of protests since September. (BBC News, BBC News, BBC World Service, Dec. 14)

Villagers say that they have enough supplies to hold out for 10 more days. No food or water is allowed in, and no villagers allowed out. But the villagers remain intransigent. Village leader Chen Liangshu told a reporter, referring to the legendary aggression of the Wukanese and their neighbors: “We have an old saying here. In heaven there is the Thunder God, on earth there is Lufeng and Wukan.” (The Telegraph, Dec. 14)

Industrial actions in Guangdong also continue. On Dec. 3, over 2,000 workers at a Japanese hard-disk factory in Shenzhen began a strike over severance pay. The strikers have staged a sit-in to block the entrance of Hailiang Storage Products Co, a subsidiary of Hitachi, accusing Japanese bosses of bullying Chinese workers. Another issue is Hitachi’s imminent sale of its stake in the Shenzhen subsidiary to US-based Western Digital Corp. The deal fails to stipulate workers’ compensation, and workers fear they will be treated as new employees when the American bosses take over. (China Workers, Dec. 10)

See our last posts on China, the struggle in Guangdong and the politics of cyberspace.

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