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An injured villager in Wukan, Guangdong province. Photo: SCMP Pictures

Separating fact from fiction in China’s Wukan crackdown over land grab protests

Is there really a big cash bounty for catching foreign journalists? Did police fire tear gas and rubber bullets? Did an old woman die in the clash? We find out

As the situation in the coastal Guangdong village of Wukan remains tense amid an ongoing police lockdown over land grab protests, a plethora of information has been circulating online about what’s going on there.

This week, Lufeng city police said four internet users had been detained or punished for spreading rumours or exaggerating facts. “Individual netizens deliberately exaggerated facts, fabricated rumours or edited old photos and treated them as scenes presently happening in Wukan,” police said.

We sort through what’s true, what’s not and what has yet to be officially confirmed.


- Tear gas cannisters and rubber bullets have been fired at villagers, as can be seen in pictures and videos showing fired cannisters on the ground as well as people’s bloody injuries from the bullets.
- Lufeng police have issued 10,000-yuan (HK$11,600) cash rewards for tip-offs on the whereabouts of six suspects, including Yang Shaoji, a nephew of Lin Zuluan’s wife. Lin is Wukan’s former party secretary, who was sentenced to 37 months’ jail in Foshan last week for corruption. Televised broadcasts over the past few days have warned locals against sheltering the suspects.

- Food supplies are limited and fast dwindling as shop and markets in the village have been shut since Lin’s conviction, after villagers stepped up their daily demonstrations to twice a day. Wukan continues to be under police lockdown since violent clash on Tuesday. Food delivery into the village is being restricted and those who want to leave the village are told they will not be allowed to return. This has forced people to remain in the village and rely on supplies of instant noodles and canned food instead of going elsewhere to buy food. On Thursday, some women were allowed to go to neighbouring villages to buy food in the day, but the village came under lockdown again when night fell.

- Plain-clothes and uniformed policemen are hunting down those deemed to be active protesters. Villagers have presented surveillance tapes and photos showing paramilitary police going from door to door searching for protesters. Many locals dare not step out of their homes for fear of arrest.

Watch: Riot police clash with villagers


- A rumour has been circulating that a woman in her 80s had been shot dead by rubber bullets in Tuesday’s clash. An official statement said, however, that the victim, 83-year-old Qian Xiuyin, injured her left arm and experienced pain in her left elbow. She was taken to Lufeng City People’s Hospital for treatment and foreign objects resembling shreds of home-made bombs were removed from her body, according to Lufeng city police. But villagers continue to insist Qian was injured by rubber bullets rather than home-made bombs.

- An internet user posted a picture online claiming that her cousin’s hand had been shot at by police. But police say that is not true; her cousin was not wounded by police, they said.


- Reports have said villagers are being offered 20,000 yuan each for information leading to the arrest of each foreign journalist. Locals say this news is being broadcast throughout the village, but local authorities have yet to confirm the information.

- More than 100 villagers, including students, are estimated to have been arrested by Lufeng police this week, according to photos and videos sent by villagers. Local police have yet to confirm the number of people arrested.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Cutting through the confusion in Wukan