Deputy Wukan chief secures new term despite graft claims

Hong Ruichao re-elected to deputy chief's post after detention on graft claims last month

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 April, 2014, 2:33am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 April, 2014, 2:33am

The deputy Wukan chief detained last month on corruption claims has been re-elected to his leadership post in the rebellious eastern Guangdong village.

Hong Ruichao received 3,441 out of nearly 8,000 ballots cast on the second round of voting in Wukan, which was seen as a potential cradle for democracy two years ago when Communist Party leaders allowed protesting villagers to elect their own government.

Hong, who had helped lead the uprisings in late 2011, was the most prominent official to retain his seat on the board amid frustration over the village's failure to recover collectively owned land sold to developers under the previous leadership.

Hong's future has been clouded since authorities in Lufeng city, which administers Wukan, detained him on claims that he pocketed funds from public projects.

Hong has denied the charges. But a Xinhua report on the election noted that Hong could lose his seat if convicted of such charges. It cited anonymous Lufeng officials.

Village committee member Sun Wenliang was elected to the other deputy chief's post yesterday while Zhang Jiangcheng secured re-election as a rank-and-file panel member.

The result came after re-elected village chief, Lin Zuluan - who helped instigate the village uprising despite being a retired cadre - pledged to work closely with ousted village committee members to "reinforce the party's rule".

"Wukan village has to face the reality, especially the [outgoing] village committee, which has been paralysed for a long time," Lin said.

Lin, who has been party boss and village chief since 2012, was reappointed party boss last month and won 5,019 votes during Monday's election. He defeated his former deputy, Yang Semao , who decided not to seek a lower office after winning just 2,268 votes for the top job.

Some villagers have expressed concerns about the re-emergence of former village cadres, such as Xue Yubao , who Lin has tapped to serve as his deputy in the new party committee.

Xue Jianwan, whose father's death in police custody fuelled public outrage during the uprisings, expressed concern about working with former officials.

"The greedy officials in the old village committee were the people we rioted against. And, if we let them return, are we dropping a rock on our own feet?" she said. "What was the meaning of our demonstrations at that time?"