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China Weekly Update (Week of September 11th)

Chinese Police Fight Running Battles with Villagers in Restive Wukan

Chinese police fired rubber bullets at villagers and arrested 13 people on Tuesday (September 13th) in an overnight crackdown to suppress demonstrations in a southern fishing village, Wukan. Over the past five years, protests in this remote village in Guangdong province, have made headline news around the world. The village has emerged as a symbol of China’s rural democracy as residents staged demonstrations against illegal land seizures and corruption. After being arrested in June, the local court jailed Lin Zuluan, the village chief and one of the campaign leaders of Wukan, for more than three years and fined him 200,000 yuan for taking bribes, as he reportedly pled guilty to two corruption charges. Most Wukan villagers reject the court’s decision, which leads to more clashes and arrests.

The Guardian, September 13th; South China Morning Post, September 14th

Mother’s Killing of Children in Rural China Spurs Debate About Inequality

On August 26th, a woman named Yang Gailan brought her four young children behind her small, mud-brick house in a northwestern rural China and hacked them to death with an ax before killing herself by drinking pesticide. Her husband also committed suicide in the same manner after learning what happened. The story was widely shared across social media, and has ignited concerns across China about the grim realities facing many rural families, as more people leave the countryside for jobs in big cities. Also, it has prompted a debate about inequality in Chinese society and the effectiveness of government efforts to reduce poverty. Adding to frustrations about the case, local officials reportedly stripped Ms. Yang of welfare benefits two years ago because she did not meet the official standard for poverty, which in China applies to people earning less than US$350 per year.

The New York Times, September 12th; Los Angeles Times, September 13th