China media: Wukan frustration

Villagers march in protest in Wukan on 15 December 2012 Villagers protested in Wukan for several months over the land grabs

A year after the restive village of Wukan drove out officials and held elections for new leaders, media say an unresolved land dispute threatens local harmony.

Back in 2011, the villagers of Wukan in southern Guangdong province held mass protests, accusing officials of selling off their land to developers without offering proper compensation. The stand-off led to the villagers ousting the existing village committee and electing new leaders.

However, some villagers now say they are frustrated with the lack of progress.

"We are not satisfied. We removed corrupt officials to get our land back, but have received nothing, and the new village committee has not given us an explanation," one villager tells Hong Kong's South China Morning Post.

Elected village leader Lin Zuluan earlier told Shanghai's Dragon TV that he regrets taking part in the campaign and says the villagers' expectations of reclaiming their land are too high.

Mr Lin also tells Hong Kong's Ming Pao that his family home has installed closed-circuit television as a precaution against villagers.

Dang Guoying, a commentator at The Beijing News, says the troubles of Wukan will be repeated in other villages unless the land contracting system is reformed to better protect farmers' rights to fair compensation.

Turning to North Korea, South China Morning Post says many internet users are sceptical over safety assurances from environmental authorities about potential radiation from North Korea's nuclear test on Tuesday.

Internet users on KD Net and other mainland forums have also been deriding "leftist" group Utopia for congratulating North Korea on its nuclear test and resisting "American imperialist forces".

"North Korea withstood the pressure of reactionary forces and successfully held a nuclear test... North Korea has earned the respect of the people of China and earned the respect of people of conscience around the world," said Utopia's message posted on its Beijing-based bookshop website on Wednesday.

Fan Jinggang, operator of the Utopia bookstore and its website, tells South China Morning Post that the message represents "a voice from the people".

"I hope Utopia goes and supports North Korea with its own wages. Don't waste the taxes of ordinary Chinese to support North Korea's nuclear test and other things. China's annual oil, food and coal are sent to this mangy dog every year. How about the food, clothing and shelter of ordinary Chinese themselves? Children have no money to see a doctor and no money to go to school," netizen BaiNianWangShi comments on KD Net.

China Central Television's first ever live footage yesterday of government ships patrolling disputed islands called the Diaoyu in China and the Senkaku in Japan is hailed by Hong Kong newspaper Wen Wei Po as a counter-attack against Japan's territorial claims.

The government ships also broadcast warnings in Chinese and English asking Japanese coast guard ships to leave the waters.

"Japan should make a calm and wise judgment and return to the negotiating table to resolve disputes with China," the Wen Wei Po editorial stresses.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong's Oriental Daily News features a photo of a "Diaoyu Islands are China's" lantern on display in Meishan in Sichuan.

In domestic news, air pollution readings rose in Beijing last night despite fewer fireworks celebrations and improved weather conditions earlier in the week, The Beijing News reports. Better wind conditions are expected to improve the air quality today, it says.

Fireworks-related casualties in the capital dropped by 22% to 163 from midnight on New Year's Eve on Saturday to yesterday and no deaths or eye injuries were reported. Fire emergencies also decreased by over 45% to 94 cases, the newspaper adds.

Yangtse Evening Post reports "severe" air pollution in Nanjing and other major cities of eastern Jiangsu province. Some members of the public joked about wearing masks and goggles to brave the incense fumes and smog to pray for blessings from the God of Wealth, an especially popular deity during Chinese New Year, the newspaper notes.

The Beijing News yesterday also called for a "declaration of war" on "unscrupulous enterprises" polluting groundwater and urged the public to help protect the country's future supply of clean water.

Elsewhere, thousands of residents in northern Datong city got on their knees in protest at Mayor Geng Yangbo's demotion to vice-mayor, South China Morning Post reports. Hong Kong Daily News says residents are worried about the fate of Mr Geng's heritage reconstruction project after he leaves office.

Turning back to the New Year, China Daily says many people are at a loss on how to coin Year of the Snake greetings, as the reptile has negative connotations in Chinese culture.

"I have looked in the dictionary but found no good words about snakes... It is just weird putting the word 'snake' and the word 'happy' in one sentence," Beijing resident Liu Xin tells the newspaper.

However, those born in a snake year are said to be "charming and popular", according to China Daily.

"They are spotlight magnets, and are good with money. However, most snakes are a bit tight when it comes to lending money," China Daily adds.

Previous snake years were in 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989 and 2001.

Famous Chinese born in a snake year include Communist republic founder Mao Zedong and current Communist Party leader Xi Jinping.

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. For more reports from BBC Monitoring, click here. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

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