Reports from Wukan, Guangdong, the Chinese village in revolt against local government, have generated more shocked gasps from the Anglophone media than in-depth reporting, resulting in a general paucity of information, let alone insightful analysis. But thanks to a 52-minute homemade video about the protest and one other report online at iSun Affairs we’re getting a little more detail. The following is a rudimentary translation of the timeline of events provided at the iSun report. I welcome any advice on the translation:
1993: Wukan Hong Kong Industrial Development Co., Ltd. is established; The Wukan government begins selling village land.
April 3rd, 2009: A leaflet appears in Wukan village entitled, “A letter to fellow townsfolk of Wukan — We’re not ‘Dead Village Slaves.'” More village land is sold, the village government alters the elections as the majority of the villagers discuss the issue of the leaflet.
April 3rd, 2009: More than 20 young people from Wukan travel to petition Guangdong provincial government leaders, soon arriving in Guangzhou’s Zhongshan Park to plan the formation of the “Wukan Hotblooded Youth Group.” The group members go on to petition eleven provincial, city, county-level city, and small-town governments.
March 14th, 2011: Five Wukan village representatives take their sixth petition to the Guangdong Provincial Complaints Bureau, then decides to send a specific delegate to seek audience for the purpose of developing collective representation.
September 21st, 2011: Three thousand villagers gather in Wukan (a coastal town on the East China Sea in Lufeng County, Shanwei Prefecture, Guangdong Province) to discuss a series of problematic incidents in the area. They collectively petition the Lufeng County Government, inquiring about arrangements regarding Jade Laurel Garden (Bi Gui Yuan). As they return home, a group of villagers numbering around a dozen smash a group of Jade Laurel Garden workers’ dormitories and some materials belonging to the Tranquil Industrial Park (Tai Gongye Yuan). That evening three youths from Wukan are arrested by the local police.
September 22nd, 2011: Wukan villagers convene a village committee to confront the problems, but the local police arrive and intervene. Soon afterwards, three to four hundred municipal police enter Wukan. A clash between the police and the people breaks out around Jin Gang street and Xinhua Fourth Road, causing over 10 people to be heavily injured and resulting in 12 police and government vehicles damaged or even flipped.
September 23rd, 2011: Thirteen self-appointed village delegates have discussions with city government officials. The government promises to abolish the villagers’ debt, return land, and to elect three special groups to enter the village and conduct an investigation.
September 28th, 2011: The Wukan village committee organizes elected representatives to go to the National People’s Congress, the villagers call into question the [earlier] illegal elections.
November 11th, 2011: Four thousand villagers provide signatures and march to the Lufeng Municipal Government with their petition. Lufeng Mayor Qiu Jinxiong personally appears to address the demands and urges the protestors to return home.
I’m hesitant to make any predictions about the future of the “mass incidents” in Wukan or their significance for the development of protest movements in China. But I would like to point out how important it is that for once Americans are perhaps seeing working class Chinese as participants in the global wave of revolution rather than a cold faceless Other waiting for America to topple. The truth is that China is facing severe internal economic and political problems and it’s not exactly poised to take over the world, contrary to American neo-Yellow Peril paranoia. Working class Chinese are not sharing equally in the country’s record level GDP growth and conflicts like Wukan (though usually smaller) are commonplace across the country.