Months after residents of South China’s Wukan village staged waves of public protest against corruption, two village officials have been expelled from the Communist Party of China (CPC) on graft charges.
Large scale citizen protests are rare in China; reports on them more so. So, when a number of big rallies were staged and residents forced out police and CPC members from the village, the incidents grabbed international headlines. The protests were against land grabs allegedly carried out by local party officials including a former head of the village.
Wukan was sealed off for days after security personnel surrounded it. Temporary internet restrictions were also put in place for restricting information on Wukan.
The two sacked officials have now been charged with corruption and rigging local elections. Besides being sacked from the Party, “Xue Chang, former Party chief of Wukan, and Chen Shunyi, former head of the village committee, were also ordered to hand over illegal gains of 189,200 Yuan (30,031 US dollars) and 86,000 Yuan respectively,” Zeng Qingrong, deputy head of the supervision department of Guangdong province was quoted as having said.
Zeng said after three months of investigation, authorities found that Wukan's former officials were involved in illegal transfers of land use rights, embezzlement, accepting bribes and rigging village elections.
Six other former village officials were also punished. Twelve township and municipal officials who collaborated with the Wukan officials in violating discipline were hauled up as well, including two who were transferred to judicial authorities for suspected law infringements.
Investigators said as the probe continues, Xue and Chen, the former Wukan top officials, may also be handed over to the judicial authorities.
“We want the authorities to thoroughly probe the corruption problems as well as the land grabs,” 60-year-old villager, Zhuang Honglie, was quoted in the local media as having said.
Yang Junbo, deputy head of the provincial land and resources bureau, had earlier said the villagers' demands were largely reasonable and some businesses were suspected of impropriating Wukan's land.