December 31, 2011 / 2:02 AM / 8 years ago

China says rebel village was right to complain

BEIJING (Reuters) - Residents of a south China village who tested the ruling Communist Party’s control with more than a week of protests had “legitimate complaints” over a land grab that sparked the rebellion, state news agency Xinhua has said.

Residents of the village of Wukan in Lufeng county, Guangdong province listen to town representatives speak during a town meeting December 21, 2011. REUTERS/David Gray

Ten days of protests over confiscated farmland and the death of a protest organizer in Wukan in booming Guangdong province earlier this month drew widespread attention as a rebuff to the stability-obsessed government.

The standoff ended after authorities offered concessions in a rare example of the government backing down to mobilised citizens.

The residents had “legitimate complaints against officials over wrongdoing concerning land use and financial management,” Xinhua said in a report released late on Friday, citing a provincial investigation team.

“In terms of land use, the provincial investigators ... found that Lufeng Fengtian livestock company used more land than was officially approved,” it cited investigator Yang Junbo, deputy head of Guangdong’s Land and Resources Department, as saying.

Another company, Guangdong Yidazhou Group, “was in arrears with its land compensation to village residents,” Yang added.

The village’s former Communist Party boss, Xue Chang, also “embezzled money to buy a vehicle for personal use,” Xinhua said.

The investigation continues, the report added, without providing further details.

This week, the government also annulled the result of an election for Wukan village head held in February “after finding several violations,” and another vote would be organised soon, Xinhua said.

Villagers had denounced local officials as corrupt and heartless throughout their months-long wrangle, which erupted in rioting in September, but they ended up welcoming provincial party officials as brokers who finally stepped in to compromise.

Protests in China have become relatively common over corruption, pollution, wages, and land grabs that local-level officials justify in the name of development.

Chinese experts put the number of “mass incidents,” as such protests are known, at about 90,000 a year in recent years.

The grip of Communist Party rule is not directly threatened by such bursts of unrest, but officials fear they could coalesce into broader, more organised challenges to their power.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Paul Tait

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