Solving Wukan case needs authority of law

Source:Global Times Published: 2016/6/20 0:33:01

Wukan village in South China's Guangdong Province has again been thrust into the limelight. According to reports, village chief Lin Zulian was taken away by police for accepting bribes. Thousands of villagers took to the streets on Sunday, demanding his release.

The case of Wukan, mainly sparked by land disputes, is peculiarly complex and acute in China's villages. In 2011, some villagers accused the village committee of illegal land grabs and staged massive protests. In early 2012, Lin was appointed Wukan's Communist Party of China secretary and later was elected village chief. The election was widely applauded.

But dissatisfaction still emerged from time to time as villagers were upset by the committee's inability to take back the grabbed land and by some officials' corrupt acts. Still, there were no mass incidents. Yet Wukan now again garners wide attention as Lin recently announced on social media he would hold a village meeting and organize a mass petitioning, and he was later arrested.

Some liberals vocally egged on the Wukan villagers via the Internet to confront the authorities. Many foreign media outlets consider what's happening in the village as the epitome of China's grass-roots politics.

Over the years, some observers in and outside China intentionally politicized the Wukan case and hitched it to grass-roots democracy and relations between the authorities and people. This is simplistic. What lies at the crux of the Wukan problem are disputes about land and property, similar to many other cases across China that are centered on land compensation or grabs. The Wukan villagers had no trust in the previous village committee and wanted a new one to speak for their interests.

But disputes over property rights cannot be solved merely through democratic means. Land problems are a frequent reason why people petition, and this has caused difficulties for authorities across China. What's special about Wukan is that its villagers are intrepid and headstrong, who cannot be easily talked down. In this sense, handling the Wukan problem well means much to the rest of China.

We believe the progress of Wukan since 2012 should be cherished and villagers should be encouraged to conduct consultations with the authorities in a rational manner. People need some knowledge of the difficulties in addressing land-related disputes and support relevant parties to make some compromise. Encouraging confrontation or radicalism should not be allowed.

If the drastic actions of the Wukan villagers are adopted by other people involved in disputes, China will see mess and disturbance at a grass-roots level. This jeopardizes the common interests of Chinese society.

The disputes in Wukan may eventually be solved in accordance with the law and only villagers' lawful demands will be met.

But there is a question in that the law often lacks authority in addressing land-related disputes. In this respect, can solving the Wukan problem set an example for the rest of the country? All in all, only law can guarantee the maximum common interests of all the relevant parties.

Posted in: Editorial

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