Powerpoint Presentation: Wukan
It is interesting to be asked by several seven or eight years’ old kids in Wukan while you are walking on the street with a SLR camera dangling in front of your chest and a backpack – obviously a foreigner – “are you a journalist?” I always disappoint them by answering “sorry, I am just a college student.” I have no idea what motivates these kids to ask every stranger in the village the same question, but one possible answer is that they want to collect my business card, if I have one. I accidentally learnt that many young people in Wukan play a new game of competing who collects most business cards from journalists.
I can imagine on the election day that, hundreds of people, villagers or foreign journalists, used their camera with an excitement they have never experienced before. The wooden three-sided object is nothing but a crude handicraft. But on that day, in Wukan Primary School’s playground, these wooden voting booths became symbols of democracy for China. After so many years, democracy is still a stranger to the land of China but the dream came true in Wukan that day.
Wukan is a coastal village located in Guangdong province, southeast China. Wukan breeds about 13000 people or 2600 households. As other rural areas in China, Wukan is poor and less developed, compared to coastal cities. Therefore, villagers, who usually graduate from middle schools, are ready to leave their hometown for modern cities in search of jobs and opportunities. Others who live and stay in Wukan either work in local businesses, such as running a grocery store or a restaurant, or work as farmers or fishermen. Land is an essential part of peasant’s assets in China. In Wukan, most households own land inherited from their ancestors. Land owners usually use their land for domestic or business purposes. In addition to private ownership, much more land is owned collectively by the Wukan people as a whole. The communal land should be managed by the Village Committee (VC), which, according to Organic Law of Village Committees, is a “primary mass organization of self-government” (Article II) in village level in China. The “primary organization of Communist Party of China in the countryside” works with the VC. All members of the VC shall be elected directly by all eligible villagers, according to the Organic Law (Article XI). Members of the party’s primary organization are elected by village’s party members, which is around one hundred.