Hundreds of villagers just south of Kunming took to the streets this past weekend to protest what they are characterizing as unlawful land seizures. More than 700 residents of Guanji Village (广济村) marched along a highway carrying signs and shouting slogans in an effort to raise awareness of their situation, Radio Free Asia (requires proxy) is reporting.
Farmers in the predominately Yao minority (瑶族) town, unhappy over proposed resettlement payments for their land, began petitioning the local government last year. At issue are 667 hectares of farmland on which developers plan to build a resort inspired by the ancient Dian Kingdom. The local government has pledged to pay a total of 120,000 yuan in compensation for the land.
Farmers working the property counter that the proposed payment is far too low. They claim vegetables grown on the disputed farmland generates roughly 30,000 yuan per mu (亩) annually.
Tensions have escalated recently as farmers assert they have been intimidated by construction crews. A man surnamed Li told Radio Free Asia that several villagers have been assaulted and said the resort construction company and local government are colluding to defraud people of their land.
In response, residents of Guanji Village have begun to patrol their farms around the clock. Accordig to Li,
The construction workers [...] were hired by the government, and they were trying to get onto our land to take it over. We are watching over the land in shifts, several hundred of us. We have beaten back the construction workers. But if they send even more people in, I think it will be hard to avoid bloodshed.
Disputes over land slated for development are nothing new in and around Kunming. Hundreds of shopkeepers were dispersed with tear gas in 2009 when it was announced the old Luosiwan wholesale market would be demolished. One year later a massive development project around the northern tip of Dianchi Lake was scrapped due to local action over resident relocation schemes.
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