Wukan is a coastal Chinese fishing village with a population of approximately 13,000. Located in the southeastern province of Guangdong, Wukan rose to international prominence in 2011 when villagers began protesting against corruption at the city level and unfair compensation for land seizure. Villagers claim that, since 1998, more than 400 hectares of land had been seized without compensation and that corrupt Lufeng city officials have skimmed more than 110 million U.S. dollars from commercial land sale.
Just two weeks before the once-per-decade Communist Party congress to announce the party’s new leadership, farmers in the Zhenhai district of Zhejiang province expressed their concerns about pollution and the increasing number of internal organ diseases and cancer in the area by starting a campaign against the proposed expansion of the Zhenhai Refining & Chemical petrochemical plant. The plant was affiliated with Ningbo Sinopec, a branch of the state-owned Sinopec petroleum company.
On 29 June 2012, the Shifang government in China’s Sichuan province announced the construction of a molybdenum-copper alloy factory. High school students in the area who were concerned about the factory’s environmental impacts sent the government a petition calling for it to cancel the construction. Reports estimated that the factory would pollute a radius of 60 km, encompassing Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province.
Post-WWI China was fraught with political turbulence and social unrest. The Qing Dynasty was overthrown in 1911 and the Republic of China was instated in its place, ending thousands of years of imperial rule in the country and generating a host of new streams of intellectual and political thought. However, warlords still ruled strong throughout many of the provinces, fueling a chaotic and backwards politics that an emerging intelligentsia sought to change.