The Wukan protests that began last year over illegal land seizure might have seemed, at the start, unspectacular, merely another in the hundreds of rallies that happen every year in China. But with each passing day — and each development reported breathlessly by embedded reporters — the demonstrations revealed themselves to be a bit more unique, with the power to effect actual change. Most important, the protests proved different in the result: the villagers won. Instead of crushing dissent, provincial Party officials agreed to punish those responsible, and return land. Elections were held — yes, elections — to determine new local leaders, and just like that, Wukan became a de facto experiment in small-scale democracy with Chinese characteristics.
Whether you believe the experiment is working — or at least willing to give it more time, such as the Atlantic, which writes, “it wouldn’t be democracy without efforts by citizens to hold their elected officials accountable” — or not working — like Reuters, which reports, “On the first anniversary of an uprising that gave birth to the experiment, more than 100 villagers rallied outside Wukan’s Communist Party offices to express anger at what they saw as slow progress by the village’s democratically elected governing committee to resolve local land disputes” — the journey has been quite remarkable.
So on this, the one-year anniversary (give or take) of the start of the Wukan protests, we’d like to present the documentary Wukan, produced by iSun TV. It’s a chance to revisit the protests from the start and get a rare on-the-ground look at the people involved. The DVD will be released in Hong Kong on October 14, but you can watch the film in its entirety, with English subtitles, on YouTube (embedded above).