Chinese Village Kicks Party Leaders Out of Town, Now Under Siege

Chinese police have placed the southern Chinese fishing village of Wukan under siege for staging an open rebellion against the local communist party, according to news reports.

All of the local Communist Party cadres and the police force have fled the town and the 20,000 residents of Wukan have taken over control of their village after being enraged at local officials for selling their land to real estate developers without their consent.

Late last week the police reportedly started blocking roads leading to Wukan in an attempt to end a nearly three month standoff between the villagers and the local government.

A Daily Telegraph reporter managed to sneak past the police checkpoint and reported that the village only has about 10 days worth of food left. The police have cut off all supplies going in and out of Wukan.

The tension in Wukan began in September when villagers became fed up over their local government's role in the land grabbing.  Hundreds of villagers stormed the Communist Party offices smashing windows, flipping vehicles and clashing with riot police.

Most of Wukan's administration left the village soon after, including the party secretary who had governed the village for nearly 30 years. Party officials tried to calm the anger by appointing 13 villagers as mediators to negotiate an agreement.

Wukan's anger culminated over the weekend when police seized five of the 13 appointed village mediators and tried to retake the village.  The Daily Telegraph reported that on early Sunday morning a thousand armed riot police  moved to enter Wukan.  "The entire village ran to block the police," one villager told the Daily Telegraph reporter.  After a two hour standoff, the police retreated and set up a blockade perimeter around the village.

Then news came Monday that one of  mediators, 43-year-old Xue Jinbo, died in police custody.  The official cause of death offered by police and party officials was "cardiac failure," but Wukan residents have their suspicions.  The police have reportedly refused to release Xue's body to his family.

There are an estimated 180,000 protests - or what Beijing calls "mass incidents"  - every year in China, many arising from land disputes.

These protest are mainly directed at the local Communist Party and not the central government.  Some of the villagers the Daily Telegraph spoke to even appealed to Beijing for help to resolve the situation.

ABC News calls to the Wukan Village Committee this afternoon went unanswered.

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