Few traces remain in Wukan of the revolutionary fervour that filled its narrow alleyways and numerous temple courtyards between late September and the end of December last year. Its extraordinary defiance during those weeks gripped China (or at least those with access to uncensored news, much of it spread by microblogs) and made headlines around the world. In the village government offices, which were ransacked last year by protesters and festooned with banners and posters demanding the return of land sold off by officials, rebels-turned-bureaucrats now sift through documents and talk to occasional visitors over tea served in tiny cups. On a building on the edge of the village one fading slogan can still be made out: "Corrupt officials must be punished for destroying our land".
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IN LATE 2011 residents of Wukan, a fishing village in the southern province of Guangdong near Hong Kong, paraded through its streets carrying banners with slogans such as "Down with dictatorship" and "Give us back our human rights". Their protests, which ended with a spectacular government climbdown and the election of rebel leaders as the village's new chiefs, inspired talk among China's reformists of a "Wukan model" for the spread of democracy. Yet in the village itself, one-time rebels are now far from happy about what they have achieved.
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