Police Crackdown in Land Dispute

Villagers in a land dispute in eastern China clash with police.

Share on WhatsApp
Share on WhatsApp
wenzhou_land-1-305.jpg Villagers protect their land from construction crews, May 12, 2009.
Photo provided by villagers

HONG KONGPolice clashed with villagers protesting what they say is inadequate payment for their farmland in China’s eastern Zhejiang province, leaving many injured, witnesses said.

Police fired tear gas during the melee, early May 11 in Chanzhong village, under the jurisdiction of Haibin township near Zhejiang’s Wenzhou city.

One villager, who asked not to be named, said police entered people’s homes, dragged them out of bed, and took them away.

“Some villagers spent the night in the field guarding their farmland. They too were taken away,” the villager said.

The villager said the wife of a detained protester went to the home of the Chanzhong village chief demanding the release of her husband and was attacked by the chief’s brother, who allegedly threw a case of beer bottles at her from upstairs.

“She is still in the hospital being treated for her injuries,” he said.

“They detained four or five people that night without any evidence against them. The police say they were the ringleaders."

Another villager, who also asked not to be named, said nearly 200 villagers returned to the site Wednesday but were outnumbered.

“The villagers were no match for them. There were about 1,000 of them—the police and construction crew, even local thugs,” the villager said.

“Yesterday a villager was beaten and later hospitalized. Many sustained minor injuries,” he said.

The villager said police had detained four or five people, saying they would be detained for 10 days.

A third villager confirmed the detention and said protesters would continue their efforts in the land dispute.

“The villagers are still making a lot of noise…because of the land grab.”

Official response

When asked whether Chanzhong residents were still in detention, an officer at the Haibin township police station said police had been visiting the site to ensure construction for the development project could proceed.

The officer confirmed that villagers had been detained on the morning of May 11, but said he was unclear on how many had been taken.

He referred questions about why the villagers had been detained to a higher authority, saying police at the scene included officers from his station as well as from a branch station.

The Party secretary of Haibin township, surnamed Wang, referred questions about land compensation and the reason behind the detentions to the local propaganda department.

Development project

In 2007, approximately 160 mu (about 11 hectares) of farmland in Chanzhong village, situated near an airport, was expropriated by the Haibin township government for a development project, allegedly without the prior consent of villagers.

The listing price for the land was 1.38 million yuan (U.S. $184,000), but to date each villager has received only about 400 yuan (U.S. $53), villagers said.

More than 4,000 villagers have jointly petitioned against the land deal and demanded a review of the transaction.

A construction crew began preparations to begin developing the land earlier this year.

The villagers had been guarding their land day and night in a bid to prevent the crew from working.

Original reporting by Ding Xiao for RFA’s Mandarin service. Mandarin service director: Jennifer Chou. Written for the Web in English by Joshua Lipes. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.


Add your comment by filling out the form below in plain text. Comments are approved by a moderator and can be edited in accordance with RFAs Terms of Use. Comments will not appear in real time. RFA is not responsible for the content of the postings. Please, be respectful of others' point of view and stick to the facts.

View Full Site