Crackdown in Wukan a test of party boss' ability

WUKAN • This month's crackdown on protests in China's Wukan village was ordered by the provincial leader under pressure to prove his mettle ahead of a pivotal Communist Party congress next year, where he could reach the top table of power, sources close to the leadership say.

Guangdong party boss Hu Chunhua, at 53 one of the two youngest members of the party's 25-member Politburo, is a candidate for the seven-person Politburo Standing Committee (PSC), the apex of Chinese political power, according to analysts and several sources with ties to the central leadership.

The pacification of Wukan, where villagers had marched for over 80 days since mid-June in protest at the jailing of democratically elected village chief Lin Zuluan, was crucial to his chances, they said. "It's a test of Hu Chunhua's ability," a source with central leadership ties told Reuters.

The source added that the leadership's view of Mr Hu's handling of the Wukan situation would be an important factor in determining whether he makes it onto the PSC.

The village came to prominence in 2011 when it rose up against land grabs by local officials and wrested concessions including a free vote to elect Mr Lin and other village leaders from the previous Guangdong boss, Mr Wang Yang, now a vice-premier in Beijing.

A source said Mr Hu took a harder lineafter leaders in the capital made it clear they wanted to suppress the protests.

"There can be no noise pollution," a senior Chinese official in Beijing told Reuters. "Threats to stability must be nipped in the bud."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 24, 2016, with the headline 'Crackdown in Wukan a test of party boss' ability'. Print Edition | Subscribe