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Authorities in Guangdong province will issue a designated plan in the second half of the year to improve village-level organization and management, a top local Party official said.
"We will hold a province-wide meeting later this year, based on the experience and lessons we have learned from the Wukan issue," said Wang Yang, Party chief of Guangdong.
Residents of Wukan, a fishing village in the eastern part of Guangdong, went to the polls to elect a new village committee on Saturday, several months after staging massive protests over illegal land sales and other issues.
Wang Yang (left), Party chief of Guangdong province, at a panel discussion of Guangdong delegation on Monday in Beijing. [Wu Jun / for China Daily]
"The Wukan issue has given us a rare opportunity to think carefully about the past mode of management and organization in grassroots democracy," Wang told reporters during a panel discussion on the sidelines of the annual session of the National People's Congress, which opened on Monday.
The poll in Wukan, which consisted of three stages, including the selection of an 11-member election board, 109 village representatives and a new village committee, was operated in accordance with the related provincial and village-level electoral laws, Wang said.
"We attached great importance to implementing the electoral laws, and villagers who participated in the election showed great concern for details in the procedure," Wang added.
Wang said the fundamental point needed to solve the Wukan issue rested on a basic theory to protect most residents' rights.
"After the initial investigation, we found that appeals by residents in the village were reasonable. We must be responsible and take measures to protect rights of villagers, not a small group of local officials," Wang said.
Wang said the provincial authorities will step up efforts to deepen reform by reducing the power of interest groups.
"Some interest groups, either in political or business circles, have become a major hurdle in the process of reform. Only by representing people's rights can our reform in governing the rural areas be successful," he said.The provincial authorities have attached great importance to the Wukan issue since September and sent an investigation team, including high-profile officials, to the village.
"It was not because this issue had become too complicated to solve, but that we tried to work out a plan to improve the village-level management and organization," Wang said.
The unrest did not ease until December when Zhu Mingguo, deputy Party chief of Guangdong, who led the investigation team, held direct talks with villagers and promised a "fair, open and thorough" investigation.
Preliminary investigation indicated that some local officials had violated the law and ethics of office while selling farmland in Wukan for commercial use, and the issue of land use had not been publicly and fairly disclosed to residents since the 1990s.
Premier Wen Jiabao said in the government report on Monday that the government will uphold the basic rural operation system and step up efforts to protect farmers' rights.
"Farmers' rights to the land they contracted to work on, to the land on which their houses sit, and to proceeds from collective undertakings are property rights conferred by law and these rights must not be violated by anyone," Wen said.
Wen said the government will provide better supervision and services for the transfer of contracted land-use rights and develop farming operations on an appropriately large scale.
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