Read the Mandarin version of this story
HONG KONG—Riot police wielding shields and batons have dispersed a protest near the southern Chinese city of Zhuhai after clashes with several hundred local residents embroiled in a land dispute with local officials.
"Yes, it's because of that [the dispute over land compensation]," an official at the Mashan village government offices near Zhuhai told RFA's Mandarin service. "There were only one or two injured. It was evening then, so they didn't realize they had hit people."
The official said a large number of police were dispatched to disperse protesters who had blocked a major road near the Qianwu township.
"Perhaps [there were 100 police], I'm not sure, but I heard it was a lot of them," she said.
According to Hong Kong media reports, around 7,000 villages in the area were disputing the transfer of 1,500 mu (247 acres) of farmland by the Qianwu township government for development purposes last year.
The villagers were compensated 500 yuan (U.S.$60) per mu at the time, but had since demanded further compensation, local residents confirmed to RFA.
"It's because of the inadequate compensation following the land transfer," one villager commented when asked about the sit-in and road-blockage protest.
Around 100 riot police were dispatched to disperse the protest at around 8 p.m. Monday, following a protest that had begun last week, the Chinese-langague Sun newspaper reported.
An official who answered the phone at the Mashan village police station declined to comment, however. "Sorry, I can't speak to you," he said.
But the Mashan government official said protesters had returned to block the road Tuesday, although no further clashes had taken place.
Violent clashes between local farming communities and their governments are on the rise across China, as local officials cash in on booming property values.
Local governments frequently use local police forces as muscle in these disputes, which often hinge on allegations of corruption and embezzlement of compensation funds and back-door deals with property companies.
On the Web:
Loopholes in Land Requisitions: People's Daily article
Official China.org Website on Land Use
Summary of China's Rules on Transfer of Farmland