China detains rebel village official: Xinhua

China detains rebel village official: Xinhua
This photo taken on December 12, 2013 shows elected village official Yang Semao talking to AFP in the southern Chinese village of Wukan in Guangdong province.

BEIJING - Chinese police have detained on bribery charges the deputy chief of a village which attracted worldwide attention when it rebelled against its Communist leaders, state media said Friday.

Yang Semao, one of the leaders of the 2011 uprising in the southern village of Wukan, which saw locals drive out Communist Party officials who were accused of illegal land grabs, was detained on Thursday, the official Xinhua news agency said.

The report suggests a further blow to villagers' hopes of retrieving their land after a committee chosen in unprecedented free elections failed in their attempts to completely recover it.

Local investigating authorities have accused Yang of "taking bribes in public projects in the village" Xinhua said, without giving details.

In 2011 the villagers of Wukan mounted huge protests, and only relented when provincial authorities granted the elections - seen as a breakthrough for citizen rights in a state that quashes unrest when local officials requisition land to sell to developers at huge profit.

But the elation faded as the rebels-turned-officials discovered it was beyond their power to wrangle land back from unwilling city authorities, influential companies and a web of legally binding plot sales.

Yang told AFP in December that out of about 6,500 mu (430 hectares or 1,100 acres) of land being sought, villagers had retrieved only a little over 10 per cent, while around a third was effectively gone forever.

He admitted the new village committee had lost the support of many residents, saying: "They don't trust us because we haven't met their interests."

Xinhua reported that 330 hectares of land had been returned to the village. Wukan held another election on Tuesday and a new 11-strong leadership will be formed early next month, it reported.


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