Villagers Still Occupy Disputed Land After Inner Mongolia Clashes

2005-07-27
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HONG KONG—Villagers near the northern Chinese city of Tongliao are still occupying land in the path of an expressway project following violent clashes between farmers and police last week that left at least a dozen people injured.

"Yes, we are," a resident of Qianjin village near Tongliao, in Inner Mongolia, told RFA's Mandarin service when asked if the farmers were still occupying the land. "The compensation money still hasn't arrived...They are giving us 9,900 yuan [U.S.$1,222] per mu [0.16 acres or 0.6 hectares]."

"We can't find anyone to deal with us," the villager, surnamed Li, said when asked if they had tried any other means to pursue their complaints.

Deductions from compensation sum

He said China's central government had set the compensation rate as high as 20,000 yuan per mu in some cases, but that much of that some was deducted by local officials before it reached the farmers.

He said three or four villagers had been injured in the July 22 confrontation, in which villagers had clashed violently with police.

Local officials dismissed the villagers' claims of injury, saying that police had shown great restraint in the face of verbal and physical abuse.

"The villagers carried out some acts which were over the top," the leader of nearby Yuxing township told RFA reporter Gao Shan. "They were throwing bricks...and hitting our police officers. The police were steadfast, not responding either to verbal abuse or to physical provocation."

Officials blame villagers

"There are still some police officers recovering in the hospital. Up to five vehicles were destroyed by the local people," said the township chief, who identified himself only by his surname Zhang.

"There were at least 10 police officers injured," he said. "Including the deputy chief of the township police station."

Zhang said local officials were still trying to persuade the villagers to leave the disputed land so that work could continue on the expressway.

"The villagers' share of the compensation was 9,900 yuan. That's for each individual. The remainder is compensation which goes to the local government," he said.

Transparency promised

"How that money gets used is to be decided in conjunction with the representatives of the local villagers. Their opinion is what counts. This will be conducted in a fair and transparent way," Zhang told RFA.

Similar protests have been reported across China in recent years, as economic growth and massive government investment in infrastructure fuel property values.

In many cases, villagers are angry at official corruption and cronyism, and local governments may hire local heavies to remove people from homes and land by force.

Original reporting in Mandarin by Gao Shan. RFA Mandarin service director: Jennifer Chou. Produced for the Web in English by Luisetta Mudie.

Original reporting in Mandarin

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