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Standoff ends in Chinese village

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Unread 12.27.11, 04:29 PM
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Standoff ends in Chinese village

12.27.11 01:56 PM

BEIJING, Dec. 27 (UPI) -- Police have released three representatives from the South Chinese village of Wukan but are still holding one, a village spokesman said Tuesday.

A fifth, Xue Jinbo, died in police custody earlier this month, setting off a revolt in the coastal farming village. Villagers drove Communist Party officials out and set up barricades.

The standoff in Wukan ended last week, The New York Times reported. Residents agreed to end their protest in exchange for return of the representatives, who had been chosen to speak for Wukan in a dispute about land sales to a developer.

Chen Xidong, the spokesman, told the Times in a telephone interview that the fifth man remained in custody because of an unrelated police investigation.

Wukan, with a population of 13,000, had been in an uproar since September. Villagers charged party officials with profiting from the plan to develop farmland into villas.

The protests in Wukan and similar, if less drastic ones in other rural areas, appear to be having an effect. Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, speaking Tuesday at a party conference on rural development, spoke of the importance of preserving farmers' land rights, Xinhua, the official government news agency, reported.

"We can no longer sacrifice farmers' land property rights to reduce costs of urbanization and industrialization," Wen said.

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