A true story about Taishi village incident
Updated: 2005-10-21 18:34
A spokesman for the Panyu District government, Guangzhou City, in
South China, in an interview with www.southcn.com on October 21, revealed a
detailed and complete story about the Taishi Village incident, involving the
villagers' bid to recall the elected village head, and its aftermath. The
following is a digest of the exclusive interview.
The process - from the time when some villagers proposed to
recall village head to the time when the recall motion became
Taishi Village is located north of Yuwotou Town in Panyu District,
with permanent residents of 2,040 and registered voters of 1,502. In
recent years, the village economy has recorded a rapid growth. In 2004, net
revenues of the village's collective economy reached 4.81 million yuan, 3.1
times of the amount of 2001. The current Village Administrave Committee head (or
director), Chen Jinsheng, was first elected in October 1998, and was
reelected in last April.
In early May, a villager surnamed Liang was elected as the leader of a
village group. During the election, Liang promised that if elected, he would
distribute each villager 10,000 yuan from land acquisition proceeds and donate a
plot of land to the village. After Liang was elected, the villagers demanded
that he fulfill his avow, so Liang, together with villager Feng and another
villager, went to the Village Administrative Committee which was asked to
distribute money. But the three were refused. They then appealed to higher
authorities concerning the distribution of land acquisition fees and the finance
management of Taishi village several times. The village committee, town and
district authorities explained the legal issues attentively
to the three, quoting relevant State and provincial policies.
But Liang and Feng were not satisfied. Later they demanded the village
committee to pay them more than 100,000 yuan as "appeal compensation fee", and
their new request was rejected outright by the village committee. Then,
they began to seek "outside help" , trying to cause a trouble
for the committee.
Introduced by another villager surnamed He, they got to recognize and
collaborated with Yang Maodong, who is a legal advisor with the
Beijing-based Shengzhi Law Office, and Lu Banglie, who is a deputy of Hubei
Province's Zhijiang City People's Congress. On July 29, following the
advice of Yang Maodong an Lu Banglie, Liang and Feng went to the Panyu
District Civil Affairs Bureau to submit a photocopy of a motion to recall the
village committee head Chen Jinsheng, with the signatures of more than 400
villagers, accusing Chen and the committee for undergoing "bribery
during the re-election campaign," "selling village land illegally during
hi first term", and "not explaining to villagers where the land selling proceeds
went." However, they did not submit the original copy of the signed motion,
which is required by law for starting a recall.
On August 3, they instigated about 100 villagers to take the village
committee office building by force, besieging it and even
restricting the freedom of the village committee officials, which caused
village committee no longer functional. On August 16, Liang and Feng
organized about 150 villagers to prevent the police from enforcing their
duties for more than 2 hours when the policemen were trying to detain those
villagers who organized others to obstruct the work of the village
commitee by occupying it by force. On August 31 and September 2, Feng and
Liang, together with some other villagers, went to stage a sit-in protest
on the sidewalk to the east gate of the Panyu District government.
On September 5, Feng Qiusheng and several others submitted the original copy
of the motion to recall Taishi village committee head Chen Jinsheng with the
signature of 892 villagers. The Panyu District civil affairs bureau immediately
asked the town government to validate and verify the signatures. The
vefification found that some names were fake, and the names of some dead
people were also among the motion signatures, but 584 signatures were
determined to be true and valid. The number was enough to start a recall
procedure as stipulated by law. Then, the legal procedure to impeach the village
committee director began.
On September 3, Taishi held a villager representatives' meeting. At the
meeting, it was agreed, through voting, to carry out an audit of the "25
problems" allegedly to exist with the village committee. From September
12-16, Panyu District government dispatched a work group to audit the
finances of the village, giving a detailed check to the "25
problems" brought up by the villagers. At the same time, the Panyu District
Civil Affairs Bureau directed the village to follow the law to form a recall
committee with seven villagers. Later, Panyu District Government made
public the audit and investigation results to more than 500 Taishi villager
After the investigation and audit results were made public, most of the
villagers who signed on the recall motion came to know the truth, many said
the original alleged reasons to recall the village head did
not hold, and therefore withdrew their signatures from the recall motion.
Between September 26 and 28, the village recall committee validated the number
of voters who requested withdrawing signature,and confirmed that,of 584 original
villagers who signed the recall motion, 396 requested withdrawal.
Thus, the final confirmed number of valid signatures was only 188, which was
fewer than one-fifth of the total number of the registered
Taishi voters(1,502). Thus, the recall motion no longer met the legal
requirement. The Taishi village recall committee declared on September 29 that
the motion to recall village committee head Chen Jinsheng automatically ceased
to be valid.
The government departments perform the duties according to law and
responsive to villagers demands and needs
In handling the Taish recall incident, the Panyu district and Yuwotou
town governments abided by laws and responded to the villagers' demands and
needs, and guided the villagers to solve any problem via legitimate channels.
After receiving the photocopy of the recall motion signed by more than 400
Taishi villagers on July 29, the district's civil affairs bureau explained,
seven times, to the visitors about laws, regulations, procedures and
requirements for impeachment of village committee members. The bureau told them
that they would have to produce a valid document of the recall motion, and
submitted motion according to law. During the period, the director of the
district civil affairs bureau and persons directly handling the matter
explained, respectively on August 12, 31, September 1 and 2, the legal
procedures and requirements for recalling village committee head at the gate of
the Yuwotou town committee, the east gate of the district government and the
Yuwotou primary school, and they also publicized the laws and procedures through
TV and broadcasting methods.
After villagers first submitted the recall motion to the district civil
affairs bureau on September 5, the bureau immediately asked the Yuwotou
town government to issue a notice on September 6 to validate and verify the
names. The verification results were announced by Yuwotou town government
in the evening of September 8, confirming that the number of signatures on the
motion had exceeded one-fifth of the total registered voters of Taishi, that it
made the number of people required, that the recall motion was valid. In the
morning of September 13, the district civil affairs bureau made public the
"operation procedures for recalling village committee head" and the "schedule
for recalling the (3rd elected) village committee head of Taishi Village of
Yuwotou Town". On September 16, the Taishi villagers
representatives after a meeting selected, through vote, seven members of
villagers, to consist the village recall committee.
When most villagers who signed the motion came to know the audit results and
investigation findings of the village committee and Chen Jinsheng, they
requested to withdraw recall signatures. On September 29, when the
number of people who signed motion to recall the village committee head failed
to meet the legal quorum, the Taishi village recall committee declared,
according to law, the motion to recall village head Chen Jinsheng
automatically ceased to be valid.
In the entire process, from the acceptance of the recall motion submitted by
villagers to the declaration of invalidity of the motion, relevant government
departments all handled it according to law.
Police handled the incident in accordance with law
In handling the Taishi recall incident, the Panyu branch of the
Guangzhou Public Security Bureau dealt with the issue strictly according to law,
and explained relevant laws to the villagers. They enforced their duties
entrusted by the law and helped maintain order in the village. From
the evening of August 3, some 100 villagers took the village committee
office building by force under the name of "protecting the accounting
ledgers," causing the normal activities of the village committee to a
standstill. The Yuwotou town government directed relevant departments to
explain to the villagers law procedures. Afterwards, the Panyu public
security bureau issued a notice on August 13, asking the villagers to abide by
the law and stopping their illegal occupation of the village committe office
building. Some villagers, however, continued their occupation under the
instigation by some people.
On August 16, police from the Panyu the public security bureau detained
those who organized some villagers to obstruct police from law
enforcement. On September 12, Panyu public security bureau evicted those
who had been illegally occupying the village office building for more
than a month. The police officers were lightly armed during the
eviction action. They did not fight back when being hit and scolded, and four
police officers suffered slight injuries. During the process of law enforcement,
the public security departments strictly abided by law and there was no
so-called "violent and bloodshed act" as reported by some overseas media
Some overseas media have claimed that a "bloody crackdown tragedy" had
occurred in Taishi, saying the police had "crushed" the villagers. These have
been proved to be groundless lies and deliberate fabrications.
Yang Maodong, Lu Banglie involved in the Taish incident
Yang Maodong, with a Web name called "Guo Feixiong", is a legal adviser in
the Beijing-based Shengzhi Law Office. Lu Banglie, a deputy of Zhijiang City
people's congress in Central China's Hubei Province, had launched the country's
first campaign to oust the director of a village committee. Yang and Lu
were the plotters and organizers of the Taishi village recall incident. They not
only mobilized villagers to stage a "hunger strike", but also instigated
some villagers to confront law enforcement officers, seriously disrupting
the stability of the Taishi Village.
Yang Maodong had instructed Lu Banglie and others to mount activities in
Taishi village, and instigated villagers to persist and tried to mobilize more
to join after some villagers stormed and took control of the village committee
building. He also called upon the villagers to appeal and stage hunger strikes.
Yang Maodong kept himself updated on the "latest developments" in Taishi
village, and then tried all means to exploit foreign media and websites to
spread distorted reports and rumors.
To name an example, on August 17, he sent emails to all kinds of media
titled "Bloodshed in Guangzhou suburbs, government sends riot police to beat
villagers asking for reelection of village officials", in an attempt to make up
stories to mislead the public. Worse of the person, Yang tried to cheat
villagers for his personal gains under the pretext of safeguarding villagers
rights. Police investigation has found that Yang collected more
than 40,000 yuan from Taishi villagers, which was raised illegally.
On September 13, he was detained by Panyu public security bureau over
charges of mobilizing and instigating villagers to disrupt social orders. He was
arrested on October 5. He is now in good condition, and is not staging a
hunger strike in the detention room as claimed by some foreign reports.
Lu Banglie had taken part in drafting the recall motion, a public letter to
Taishi villagers and other documents, and instructed people to collect
signatures. He also organized sit-ins and hunger strikes to exert pressure on
relevant departments. Lu Banglie had been educated by the Zhijiang City
People's Congress of Hubei Province where his residence is registered.
Report on the "beating" of Lu Banglie and overseas reporter was
Around 8:40 pm on September 8, some Taishi villagers found that Lu Banglie
came with two stranger foreigners driving into the village in a taxi. They were
stopped near the Taishi Secondary School by some villagers, because Lu
Bangjie came to the village very often in that period and villagers were
not happy with him. This time, he arrived with two stranger foreigners in straw
hats. The villagers warned Lu not to stir up trouble there because they won't
listen to him anymore. The villagers told them to leave immediately, but they
kept hanging around in the village. The two foreign men, claiming to be
reporters working for a British newspaper but refusing to show any
identification, excused that they came for a report on orphan adoption in
Taishi. Villagers' suspicion over the trio climbed, as there was obviously no
orphan in their village.
Upon realizing that they could hardly entered the village under whatever
pretext, the trio then attempted to force their way in and a heated
spat escalated to some pushing and shoving. Lu Bangjie claimed he was
injured. At 8:50 pm, the Yuwotou police received an alert and rushed to the
scene to restore order. The three were later taken to the town government
building. After questioning, the two foreigners were identified as the Guardian
(UK)'s Shanghai-based correspondent Benjamin Joffe-Walt and the Singaporean Tang
Guoye, an employee of a Shanghai-based translation company. Since they were not
able to show any documents of permission filed by relevant foreign affairs
department, the Yuwotou police briefed them it was illegal for them to
gather information without the permission of the provincial and city-level
foreign affairs departments.
After that,to ensure their safety, the town government drove them back to the
White Swan Hotel in Guangzhou. The two foreigners were not hurt at all during
the incident.It was sheer rumor to say that Benjamin Joffe-Walt was assaulted.
The Britain-based newspaper Guardian later learned that their reporter'
information collection without permission is against the Chinese law,
therefore they issued apology to relative authorities.
Since Lu Banglie claimed to have been injured, the Yuwotou police sent Lu to
the town hospital for a full physical examination including CT and other
procedures. The doctors said that Lu was normal except for some light scratches
on his hands. As Lu was a deputy of the people's congress, the relevant persons
called the standing committee of the Zhijiang City people's congress of Hubei
Province, where Lu's household is registered. At 10:41 pm, the Zhijiang City
people's congress standing committee replied and asked the Panyu District
people's congress to bring Lu Banglie back to Zhijiang. The Panyu people's
congress then arranged for workers to take Lu back to Zhijiang. At 7:30 pm on
September 9, Lu Banglie arrived at Zhijiang City in Hubei Province. The Zhijiang
City people's congress standing committee immediately arranged for Lu Banglie to
be examined at the Bailizhou town hospital. On the morning of October 10, they
brought Lu Banglie to the Zhijiang City People's Hospital for a further
examination while asking the legal medical expert of the Zhijiang City Public
Security Bureau to be in attendance. After repeated examinations, except for the
legal medical expert identifying the light scratches on his arm (believed to
have been caused during the pushing and shoving with the villagers when Lu
insisted on entering), Lu was deemed to be normal otherwise. Afterwards, Lu
Banglie signed his name and endorsed on the town and city hospital examination
results. Therefore, the rumored "bloodshed" in which Lu Banglie was seriously
beaten or killed was fabricated.
The life of Taishi people has returned to normal
Investigation and audit work into the Taishi Village committee and its head
Chen Jinsheng, by the Panyu District working group, have found no serious
economic malpractices, although, the group suggested there are room to
be improved with the village committee' routine work and administration.
Lately, the village committee headed by Chen has drafted several bills to
redress previous conditions, such as the improvement of the infrastructures for
culture and entertainment in local schools, building the village's center park,
and improvment concerning villagers' working conditions. The bills are worked
out after soliciting villagers opinions and suggestions. In
addition, the Taishi village committee has decided to enhance its
administrative ability while coping with village affairs and trying to
increase village finance transparency. Monthly village meeting are now
planned to address big village issues, including the overall
development of Taishi, distribution of village income, and the land
use. Opinions of the majorty villagers would be taken into
accout when a decision is made, and the final decision would be made known
to all villagers. It is expected that Taishi will see a more
healthy advancement on the basis of a sufficient respect to villagers' opinions
The life of Taishi villagers has come back to normal.