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Last Updated: Monday, 10 October 2005, 05:59 GMT 06:59 UK
Chinese activist attacked by mob
Chinese villagers face off with riot police in Taishi, Guangdong province, on 12 September 2005
Police and villagers clashed last month over the dispute
A Chinese political activist is missing after he was severely beaten as he tried to enter a village at the centre of a corruption dispute.

Lu Banglie was dragged from a car by a crowd of several dozen men, according to a reporter for the UK newspaper The Guardian, who witnessed the incident.

Mr Lu was repeatedly beaten and kicked even after he had lost consciousness.

The reporter said he was forced to leave the scene, near Taishi village, and had not been able to trace Mr Lu.

Mr Lu is a delegate to one of China's provincial legislatures.

He had recently been involved in helping local people to try and remove the elected chief of the village of Taishi, in southern Guangdong province.

The chief is accused of embezzling public funds in a deal involving the sale of a large tract of village land.

Since the people of Taishi launched their campaign to remove their chief in July, the village has become a test case for local-level democracy in China.

'Sustained beating'

The Guardian's Benjamin Joffe-Walt said he, Mr Lu and two other men were in their car when they were stopped by a group of more than 50 men - including people in police and army uniforms - as they neared Taishi on Saturday night.

The uniformed men left and then the rest of the group set upon Mr Lu, dragging him out of the car and kicking him unconscious.

"Even after [Mr Lu] was unconscious, they continued beating him for about 10 minutes," said Jonathan Watts, the Guardian's Beijing-based correspondent.

"We're extremely concerned about what has happened to him."

Two foreign journalists were said to have been pushed and shoved by a crowd outside the village on Friday, as they tried to investigate the dispute.

Earlier this month, Guo Feixiong, a lawyer who was helping villagers in the dispute, was arrested.

Protests by villagers over issues such as land seizures, corruption and pollution are becoming increasingly common in China.

Last year the government documented more than 70,000 demonstrations involving more than three million people, and according to the BBC Beijing correspondent, Daniel Griffiths, the authorities are worried that rising discontent might threaten their grip on power.

The violence in Taishi coincided with a four-day meeting of the Communist Party's Central Committee in Beijing, where one of the topics on the agenda is the social unrest fuelled by the growing gap between rich and poor.



SEE ALSO:
China faces growing land disputes
02 Aug 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Chinese protest lawyer 'arrested'
06 Oct 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Attacks on Chinese police rising
28 Sep 05 |  Asia-Pacific
China villagers protest corruption
01 Sep 05 |  Asia-Pacific


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