According to Xinhua News Agency yesterday, sources from Dingzhou City in Hebei Province confirmed that the provincial and prefecture-level governments there had ordered a stop to land requisition in Shengyou Village, which has been the site of a number of violent incidents in recent months.
It said Guohua Dingzhou Power Plant, a key national and provincial priority project, would have to find land elsewhere for its cinder storage facility since Shengyou had limited alternative arable land.
The power plant requisitioned a total of 1,748 mu (116.5 hectares) in 2003 across 13 villages in two townships, 387 mu (25.8 hectares) of which was in Shengyou.
A July 2004 report in Hebei Youth News quoted Dingzhou's Land Resources Bureau as saying that per-mu compensation was about 15,000 yuan (US$1,812) and that every village apart from Shengyou had accepted it.
Shengyou villagers asked to see the land requisition contract and other official documents on the criteria of compensation but, as their request was not met, they built makeshift shelters and moved onto the requisitioned land on July 9, 2004 to prevent any construction.
At 2:30 AM on April 20 this year about 20 people attacked the villagers with clubs, but failed to move them.
On June 11, at 4:30 AM, five busloads of over 200 hired men, dressed in uniforms and construction helmets and armed with hunting rifles, swords, sharpened pipes, rods and fire extinguishers, attacked them again. This time they killed six farmers and hospitalized 48 others.
Two days later, local television reported the removal of the Party chief and mayor of Dingzhou, and on June 18, 22 suspects were reported to have been rounded up by local police.
On July 10, Dingzhou's former Party chief was reported to be under criminal detention; 248 suspects had surrendered themselves by this time, 106 of whom were under detention and 21 arrested.
According to latest reports, a total of 31 have now been arrested and 131 detained.
Shengyou villagers have reportedly welcomed the government's decision, and a team of around 50 government officials are now working alongside them to help deal with outstanding difficulties.
(China.org.cn by Wind Gu, July 21, 2005)