The Chinese village of Wukan is in open rebellion against the Communist government.

For the first time on record, the Chinese Communist party has lost all control, with the population of 20,000 in this southern fishing village now in open revolt.

The last of Wukan's dozen party officials fled on Monday after thousands of people blocked armed police from retaking the village, standing firm against tear gas and water cannons.

Since then, the police have retreated to a roadblock, some three miles away, in order to prevent food and water from entering, and villagers from leaving. Wukan's fishing fleet, its main source of income, has also been stopped from leaving harbour.

The plan appears to be to lay siege to Wukan and choke a rebellion which began three months ago when an angry mob, incensed at having the village's land sold off, rampaged through the streets and overturned cars.

It sounds like the government has blockaded the village. Cutting off food and water from civilians is an atrocity that the international community should condemn.

Could this rebellion spread, or have the Communists contained it? Now that the news is on the internet, it's hard to see how the government can prevent the spread of the news to the rest of China. Revolt by the rural masses is the most direct and imminent threat to China's economic growth, and I don't expect the government to handle it with a light touch.

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