Villagers made world's press feel welcome

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 December, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 December, 2011, 12:00am


Wukan villagers have demonstrated their organisational ability, solidarity and hospitality by hosting dozens of journalists from all over the world during the past few weeks.

Despite numerous police road blocks, residents were happy to take reporters along narrow mountain roads and coastal paths to reach Wukan. When they arrived, rows of motorcycles were standing ready to escort them to a 'press centre' in a three-storey village house. It is the only place in Wukan with a wireless internet connection. Journalists from around the world have spent days there filing stories, photos and videos. 'I have never felt so much warmth and welcome before,' said one Beijing-based foreign journalist. Most journalists slept in makeshift beds and mattresses on the floor. When more reporters swarmed to the village and space ran out, many villagers volunteered to ferry them to their homes for the night on motorcycles, returning them to the press centre in the morning for updates from village representatives.

Although food supplies from outside were intercepted by police when tensions ran high, basic hot meals such as fried rice were provided to reporters. Villagers donated their own food, utensils, bowls and chopsticks and cooked for journalists.

There were several sittings for each meal as there were only three small tables in the house .

About six ladies from different households volunteered to cook, wash dishes and clean up in the press centre.

To celebrate the deal reached with the government yesterday, villagers went out to buy fresh fish to make a meal last night.

Grocery stores refused to let reporters pay, children refused to take snacks given to them and villagers always smiled despite the looming sense of crisis in the past few days.

Most journalists left the press centre last night, with only a few staying. Villagers streamed to the house to bid farewell and take photos with the departing guests.


Estimated population of Wukan