Residents of Wukan village in southern China elected a new leader after the protest against the former leader last year.
The new village head was chosen late yesterday, the state- run news agency reported without identifying the official. Thousands of people voted in the election after 22 candidates gave speeches on Feb. 29, Xinhua reported earlier. Two deputy chiefs and four members of a village committee were also being chosen, it said yesterday.
The elections were the third and final round of voting agreed to under a deal with Guangdong province Communist Party leaders to end the December standoff. The decision to negotiate rather than quash the protest underscored the party’s priority of trying to ease social unrest as it heads into a leadership transition later this year.
“The government has surely taken a conciliatory approach because using force will not pacify social unrest,” Xiong Wei, founder of the Beijing New Enlightenment Research Center, a nongovernmental organization that advises villages on local elections, said by phone from Wukan on March 2. “The cost will be too huge; it will trigger too much public anger.”
The number of protests in China including strikes and demonstrations rose to at least 180,000 in 2010, double the number four years earlier, according to Sun Liping, a sociology professor at Tsinghua University. Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and other party leaders have said repeatedly the government must address social unrest.