Chinese authorities have ordered all Chinese media outlets and websites to delete news stories, photos and video of the Wukan protests, which were sparked by the arrest of Lin Zuluan, a former village chief who spearheaded earlier protests over lost farmland in 2011. The ban comes as authorities on the ground in Wukan declared all reporting in Wukan to be “illegal”.
The foreign press is also under pressure. When SCMP and several other news media confronted Dong Hai Township deputy chief Qian Hanpei over the arrest of Lin, Qian tried to smash journalists’ cameras and cursed “you journalists are just like dogs”.
A leaked internal document from the Guangdong provincial government accused overseas media outlets, including Hong Kong’s pro-democracy Apple Daily newspaper, CNN, the BBC and the Associated Press of “fabricating rumours” from the scene.
Going one step further. an official from Lufeng city, which administers Wukan, but was overruled by provincial authorities during the 2011 protests, accused Apple Daily and other media of “directing, planning and inciting” the recent protests.
Violent protests by the Wukan villagers in 2011 were against unscrupulous land grabs and rigged elections. However, they sparked rare concessions following an investigation by the provincial government of Guangdong, which concluded that most of the villagers’ demands and complaints were fair. Since then, of course, these concessions have been eroded, culminating in Lin’s arrest.