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Party chief rant lights debateOne city official has brought on praise and mockery over remarks to villagers protesting against land seizuresPriscilla Jiao22 December 2011A rant about the cost of maintaining social stability, the problems of small-town leadership and relations between the media and government by the party chief of Shanwei, the east Guangdong city that oversees Lufeng and its restive village of Wukan, has sparked heated online discussion.Zheng Yanxiong made the inflammatory remarks in a speech delivered on Sunday in response to the Wukan protests, accusing villagers of “colluding with foreign media to cause trouble”.“Sows will be able to climb trees if the foreign media is trustworthy,” Zheng told the villagers. “You count on a few awful foreign media, newspapers and websites rather than turning to such a responsible government. You use them to fight with your own fellows! They would be so happy to see our communist country troubled with turbulence.”Some internet users mocked him by posting a photo of a pig climbing a tree, with a piglet on her back.Others said such blunt comments offered an insight into the mindset of local officials. “No one has ever been so honest,” one internet user said on Sina weibo, a microblog site.Zheng was reacting to the stand-off between villagers and police over the weekend following the death of a village representative in custody a week earlier. He was among villagers held over protests against a government land grab that first sparked clashes with police in September.“If you wouldn’t cause trouble, we wouldn’t have to arrest people. Don’t you think it costs money to hire armed police?” Zheng said.He said the cost of mobilising hundreds of police had eaten into the funds available to Lufeng mayor Qiu Jinxiong.Villagers said they were only demanding fair compensation for the seizure of more than 400 hectares of farmland by government since 1998.Zheng said running a local administration was not easy. “A bunch of people must work harder year by year,” he said. “Who? It’s party cadres, including me.”He said that his predecessors did not have to oversee everything.“Our power is less day by day,” he said. “But our responsibility is heavier.“It’s more difficult to control the ordinary people because they are getting smarter, with more demands.”Internet users said they could see a true picture of mainland officialdom through Zheng’s remarks.“The truth he sticks to is much more revealing than talk about ‘harmony’,” said one internet user. “He is a lot more interesting than other officials. We should thank him for revealing the dilemma: maintaining stability like this has pushed local finances and ... officials beyond their limits.”
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