China rebel village sets conditions for calling off march

WUKAN,China -An organiser in a Chinese village that has rebelled against Communist Party authorities for more than a week said on Tuesday representatives would hold talks with the government and demand a set of concessions in return for calling off a march.

Residents of Wukan village in south China's Guangdong province have threatened to march on a local government office in protest over farmland seized for development, and over the suspicious death in custody of a protest organiser, Xue Jinbo.

Although the rebellion is limited to one village, it has attracted widespread attention and proven a humbling rebuff to the ruling Communist Party, which values stability above all else.

Yang Semao, a village representative, told Reuters that Wukan would send three representatives to talk to government officials in Lufeng, the nearby urban centre, and set conditions for calling off a protest march to Lufeng planned for Wednesday.

The government must remove police barricades around the village, allow more reporters to see Xue's body, and set up an investigation panel into disputes in Wukan, said Yang.

"If they agree to it, then we'll cancel the petition march tomorrow," Yang said.

But Yang could have trouble persuading irate villagers to call off the march, even if those conditions are met. As he explained the demands, another villager chimed in: "We'll still go ahead with the march. They will never agree to it today".

For more than a week, residents of Wukan have driven off officials and police, and held protests in outrage at the death in custody of Xue, whose family rejects the government's position that he died of natural causes.

They and fellow villagers believe he was subjected to abuse that left injuries including welts on his body.

Guangdong's official newspaper, the Southern Daily, said the government of the nearby city of Shanwei had offered to negotiate with the developer to return 404 acres (165 hectares) of land and to compensate villagers.

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