|This is what democracy looks like: the new rulers of Wukan rallied on Tuesday|
The dispute began in September, when suspicions were raised that the local government was selling-off common land used for farming without compensation, to Country Garden - a company specialising in "high end residential property". On the 21st, hundreds of villagers non-violently demonstrated outside nearby Communist Party offices. As the crowds grew, protesters started blocking roads and attacking buildings in an adjacent industrial park. Three villagers were arrested, and the next day more than a hundred besieged the police station, demanding their release. The state reacted with ferocity, with police and mercenaries attacking community members - including children and the elderly.
Eventually police withdrew, and the government made conciliatory noises. But this supposed truce ended violently on 11th December, with the death of Xue Jinbo. Xue was one of thirteen delegates elected by the resistance in September. According to his son-in-law Gao, Xue's "knees were bruised, his nostrils were caked with blood and his thumbs appeared to be broken." According to the state news agency Xinhua, Xue had died of a cardiac arrest, but if that is true, it clearly happened in the context of a brutal police assault.
This time, the residents stormed the police station, using overwhelming force. Police retreated to a roadblock a few miles away, and Communist officials fled in fear of their lives. As of today, the roadblock is still in force, and the town's food supplies are estimated at just over a week. But political decisions are being made collectively by the whole village.
According to a Daily Telegraph report, Tuesday saw:
"Thousands of Wukan’s residents, incensed at the death of one of their leaders in police custody, gathered for a second day in front of a triple-roofed pagoda that serves as the village hall. For five hours they sat on long benches, chanting, punching the air in unison and working themselves into a fury. At the end of the day, a fifteen minute period of mourning for their fallen villager saw the crowd convulsed in sobs and wailing for revenge against the local government. “Return the body! Return our brother! Return our farmland! Wukan has been wronged! Blood debt must be paid! Where is justice?” the crowd screamed out."The Wukan story is currently being heavily censored by the 'great firewall of China', but tech savvy hackers on proxy servers will be spreading the world around the massive nation. In recent weeks, more industrialised areas have seen a new wave of worker rebellion - as multinational companies hit by a collapse in export demand from the richest countries seek to further increase the rate of factory exploitation.
Though China weathered this depression's first wave of economic collapse by artificially stimulating the economy, falling working class living standards in the US and Europe are now impacting on conditions in the 'sweatshop of the world'. A revolutionary upsurge in China next year would make the Arab spring look like a storm in a teacup, and would also have a huge influence on the direction of class struggles around the globe.