The first high-profile case involves Sun Xiaojun, party chief in Hewan village (Jiangsu), who was arrested for hiring a gang of some 200 thugs to attack local farmers to force them off their land in order to build a petrochemical plant. During clashes last 7 January, one farmer died and another was seriously wounded.
Instead of the expected outcome, the clashes galvanised residents to fight even harder to stay. Police, which tried to hush up the farmer’s death and the land seizure, was violently attacked by residents.
In the last few years, the village of Hewan has acquired a reputation for its strong readiness to resist. In 2007 and 2008 in fact, it was the scene of violent clashes when local officials tried to seize their land.
The other case made the front-page of many newspapers. Huang Songyou, a former deputy chief justice, was sentenced to life in prison for taking bribes between 2005 and 2008 for a total of 3.9 million yuan (US$ 574,000). He was also found guilty of embezzling another 1.2 million in 1997.
On several occasions, President Hu has called on Communist leaders to fight corruption, which he has described as the single most important threat to the power of the Communist Party in China.
The People's Daily, the Communist Party's main newspaper, said in a commentary on its website that the sentences show that corruption would be “severely punished”.