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Authorities claim to have confirmed elected leader of Chinese ‘rebel village’ took HK$94,000 bribe

Authorities say they have confirmed information in an anonymous online post that accuses Wukan’s ousted mayor Lin Zuluan of taking bribes from the construction of a school running track.

Less than a day after the allegation was posted, prosecutors in Wukan’s administering city of Shanwei announced that they investigated the claims from someone claiming to be a minor Wukan official on an online forum. They found the information provided by the netizen to be true, and told Southern Daily that Lin “admitted” to the allegation.

Lin Zuluan

Lin Zuluan, talks to journalists after being elected as village chief in Wukan village, Guangdong province March 31, 2014. Photo: Reuters/Alex Lee

The anonymous poster accused Lin of taking RMB 80,000 (HK$94,000) from a school running track construction project worth RMB 420,000 (HK$493,000), and called for prosecutors to look into the matter. Claiming knowledge of the matter from personal experience, the writer accused Lin of disregarding students’ health in exchange for kickbacks, saying he cannot be innocent.

The post on Lufengshi.net, an online forum for Lufeng county, was picked up by Southern Daily, the mouthpiece of the Guangdong government, and circulated by Chinese media, following five days of protests in Wukan calling for the release of former mayor and Wukan Party Secretary Lin Zuluan.

On Tuesday, authorities in Shanwei broadcast a video in which Lin confessed to receiving kickbacks from village projects. Despite the “confession,” Wukan villagers continued to march in the streets, holding banners proclaiming Lin’s innocence.

Shanwei officials have told schools to stop allowing students use the running tracks due to concerns for students’ safety, according to Southern Daily.

The allegation against Lin surfaced in the midst of concerns about the safety of running tracks after children suffered nosebleeds and allergic reactions from toxic materials in school running tracks in Beijing.

Wukan citizens ‘refuse to be performers’ 

Wukan became known as a potential model for democracy in China after villagers were allowed to elect their own leaders after months of stand-offs with police in 2011.

wukan letter

The anonymous post on Lufeng forum. Photo: Screenshot.

The anonymous writer echoed Shanwei authorities’ claims that Hong Kong media and foreign media were inciting, planning and directing protests in Wukan. “Seeing the performances from people in our Wukan village, even the “spontaneous” performances conducted under the organisation of Hong Kong and US reporters, I can’t watch anymore! What’s wrong with Wukan people? Black and white have been inverted – you’re the puppets of others, the cannon fodder of others, are you happy this way?”

wukan student protest

Students protesting in Wukan. Photo: Screenshot from i-Cable News video.

The writer claims to be a minor official in Wukan village, and goes on discuss Lin’s character, saying he was a mentor to them, but that he has changed greatly since he came into power. The post ended with the proclamation that “Lin Zuluan is definitely not a clean official! We have to brighten our eyes, we refuse to be performers!” It was signed: “One old Wukan person, June 23.”

Authorities claim to have confirmed elected leader of Chinese 'rebel village' took HK$94,000 bribe