Chinese Protesters Put Off March As Talks Progress

Posted December 21st, 2011 at 1:50 am (UTC-5)
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Residents of a Chinese village in revolt against local authorities have postponed a march scheduled for Wednesday to allow time for talks with provincial officials.

Residents of Wukan, in the southern province of Guangdong, said on Wednesday that the rally will be put off until members of the fishing village meet with a provincial Communist Party official later in the day. The talks come after the deputy provincial party secretary, Zhu Mingguo, called the villagers' demands reasonable.

For more than a week, residents living under a police blockade have been demanding the release of several detained village leaders and protesting the death of one of them while in police custody.

Community action has driven local authorities out of the area in Guangdong, and residents have effectively been governing themselves for weeks.

Since September, the people of Wukan have been protesting what they consider illegal land grabs and corruption by local officials.

In a separate incident on Tuesday, thousands of protesters in a fishing town in coastal China blocked an expressway in a tense standoff with riot police over pollution from a planned coal-fired power plant.

Witnesses in the Guangdong provincial town of Haimen say riot police used tear gas to disperse the angry crowds gathered near government buildings. The Associated Press reports demonstrators hurled rocks and bricks at the security force, and says photos circulating on the Internet showed protesters and police injured and bleeding.

In apparent moves to ease tensions in the region, Beijing on Tuesday ordered local governments to reduce emissions of “major pollutants” from 2007 levels by as much as 10 percent by 2015.

Protests in China over corruption, pollution, wages and land seizures have become more common in recent years, in part, analysts say, because of the spiraling growth of the Internet. China currently ranks first in Internet use, with more than 450 million Internet users.