China / Society

Former Wukan heads expelled from Party

(Xinhua) Updated: 2012-04-24 14:31
GUANGZHOU - Two former officials from south China's Wukan village have been expelled from the Communist Party of China over corruption and election-rigging charges, provincial authorities announced Monday.

Xue Chang, former Party chief of Wukan, and Chen Shunyi, former head of the village committee, were also ordered to hand over illegal gains of 189,200 yuan ($30,031) and 86,000 yuan respectively, said Zeng Qingrong, deputy head of the supervision department of Guangdong province.

Wukan grabbed international headlines last year when the small village's residents staged three waves of large-scale rallies in four months to protest against village officials' alleged illegal land grabs, corruption and violations of financing and election rules.

In December, after a senior provincial official held direct talks with villagers, order was restored. Re-elections were held earlier this year while the investigation into the villagers' complaints continued.

Zeng said after three months of investigation, authorities found that Wukan's former officials were involved in illegal transfers of land use rights, embezzling collective properties, accepting bribes and rigging village elections.

Six other former village officials were also punished.

Twelve township and municipal officials who collaborated with the Wukan officials in discipline violations were punished as well, including two who were transferred to judicial authorities for suspected law infringements.

More than 1.06 million yuan of illegal gains had been confiscated from the officials involved.

Investigators said as the probe continues, Xue and Chen, the former Wukan top officials, may also be handed over to the judicial authorities.

Monday's announcement was welcomed by Wukan villagers, who also urged the authorities to swiftly settle the disputed land use rights concerning the land allegedly impropriated by businessmen through under-the-table deals with former village officials.

"We want the authorities to thoroughly probe the corruption problems as well as the land grabs," said Zhuang Honglie, a 60-year-old Wukan villager.

"We hope the land issues can be dealt with in time," said another villager, Zhang Jianxing. "If the probe drags on too long, the village's development will be affected."

Yang Junbo, deputy head of the provincial land and resources bureau, had earlier said the villagers' demands were largely reasonable and some businesses were suspected of impropriating Wukan's land.

Yang leads an investigation team that focuses on land issues. Four such teams were set up last December to handle the claims of Wukan villagers.

Lin Zulian, the newly elected village committee head, said some of the land issues are being tackled and he believes a satisfactory solution will come soon.

Lin said Wukan's development is in full swing. Public projects including water supply, road repairs, and construction of school facilities that involve tens of millions of yuan are on the table for the government.

But the new village head also stressed the need for security. "We are determined to install surveillance cameras around the village because it is important to maintain stability and the safety of the people," he said.

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