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The first rule of journalism is never to leave a running story.

Especially when you are the only journalist in town.

So why did I pull out of Wukan, slipping back past the police cordon last night down a slip road?

The story in the village is far from over, although I believe the situation is unlikely to change in the next few days, as the two sides tentatively negotiate their way towards a resolution.

The siege continues and on Dec 16 the village will mark the seventh day since Xue Jinbo, one of its representatives, died in police custody, an important public day of mourning.

The reason we had to pull out is because we felt we were putting ourselves and the villagers in danger by staying.

Jonathan Watts of the Guardian once told me, in my first few months in China, that the problem with being a journalist here is that you are surrounded by a ring of fire - you stay safe, but everyone else gets burned.

Each day we stayed in Wukan we burned the people around us, and left them open to retribution from the local government when the situation is resolved (and one way or another it will be resolved - this is not the beginning of some wider revolt).

The villagers in Wukan told us that they accepted that by allowing us to stay in the town, and speaking to us, they had made a devil's pact.

"If we speak to you, the government side can criminalise us by accusing us of cooperating with foreign forces," one villager said.

(Wukan has already been accused in the past of accepting finance from abroad, the suggestion being that foreigners are working to disrupt the local government. This sort of murky accusation is treated very seriously by the Chinese authorities.)

"But we need to speak to you to help get our story out, because the local media cannot cover this," the villager added.

Now that their story is out, however, we all had to consider whether the risks to the villagers of us remaining in the village outweighed the benefits. If the central government blames the local government for allowing a media storm to blow up, local officials are likely to hunt for scapegoats in the village and punish them severely.

And with the two sides now in delicate negotiations, we also did not want our presence to be a stumbling block on the road to a calm resolution.

Last night, after careful discussion with the villagers and my editors, we felt it was wiser to withdraw to a location nearby, from where we will keep an eye on things.





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25 comments
 
Just take care. Some guys are deporting toward there. Maybe climb over the mountain to go around the riot police, I will follow the news.
xue lu
 
As a Chinese,i'm very appreciate what you broadcast the real condition in WUKAN.wish more people know the issue.thank you !and take care.
 
As a Taiwanese, i also appreciate what you broadcast any real thing in WUKAN. wish more chinese know this issue. thanks and take care.
 
Thank you, sincerely. Damn CCP!!!
 
Great reporting +Malcolm Moore. When you get to a safe space, would you be willing to do an interview with VOA?
 
Thank you for your efforts on this and we all want all of you are safe
Xyc Ben
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新闻业的第一准则是绝不离开悲剧持续发酵的现场,尤其是你是整个镇唯一的记者.
所以,为什么昨晚我从警察哨岗边的一条小路溜出来离开乌坎?
小镇的故事和以往已经大不相同,尽管我相信未来几天现状很难发生改变,双方已经开始朝解决问题的方向以自己的方式尝试性接触.
封锁持续到11月16日,薛锦波头七,作为谈判代表之一,在警方拘捕后死亡,引发了公众不满.
我们之所以不得不离开是因为我们觉得我们的停留已经将自己和村民处于危险之中.
卫报的Jonathan Watts曾经告诉我,在中国的最初几个月,作为记者的问题是你被火包围-你安全,你周围的人全身处大火。
我们呆在乌坎的每一天我们都埋葬我周围的人民,当问题解决(总会有一种办法解决的,这不是疯狂的暴动),他们将成为地方政府的报应。
乌坎村民说他们允许我们呆在镇上,和他们说话,是和死神接触。
“如果我们和你们说话,政府将定罪里通外国。”
(乌坎已经在过去被指控接受国外资助,认为外国人正在试图颠覆地方政府。这种模糊的指控被中国当局认为十分严重。)
“但是我们需要和你说话,让我们的故事流传,当地媒体不能报导。”村民补充道。
现在他们的故事已经讲完了,然而,我们必须权衡我们的村民的风险与村民的利益。如果中央政府批评地方政府开放媒体,地方当局有可能寻找村民作为替罪羊,严厉的惩罚。
现在双方正在努力的谈判,我们自然不希望我们的出现成为一个平静的解决方案的阻碍。
昨晚,在与村民和编辑仔细的讨论下,我觉得撤退到一个附近的地方更好,在那里,我们依然可以保持观察。

This my translation, thank you!
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Thank you!A Chinese sincere wishes
xue lu
 
I saw somebody said that this is a good story,i will say "no,this is a sad story,we all feel sad and powerless",all we can do is let more people knew the issue, and you are the best reporter.
 
Thank you for your report, you help those WuKan people!
 
如果能保持现在的媒体接力,挺好的。
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please contact Eric at: eric@xomoxnyc.com and/or +86 182-1759-2902 (Shanghai)
 
thanks for your interest in the Wukan case. We understand the situation you face. Take it easy, China is not quite understanding the value of journalist and journalism but every achievement in any world is always accompanied by the sacrifice of its own people.
 
I'm truly saddened and wish we can do something. Hope the world's media continue to cover this development
 
Thank you very much!
 
新闻学的第一条原则是永不离开现场。尤其当你是现场的唯一记者时。但是为什么我们昨晚从警戒线旁的小路溜回来,撤出乌坎呢?
这村子的故事远没有结束,尽管由于双方达成了初步协议,我相信未来的这些日子状况不太可能会改变。
围困持续,12月16日村里会纪念薛锦波的头七,一个重要的公共哀悼日,他是村民代表之一,于警方拘禁期间死亡。
我们退出的原因是,我们觉得继续待下去会让我们和村民都陷入危险,卫报的Jonathan在我来中国的开始几个月曾经告诉过我,在这里当记者的一个问题是,你被一个火环包围——你很安全,但是你周围的人都被烧了。
我们在乌坎的每一天都把我们附近的人烧着了,当事情解决后,地方政府会报复他们(无论如何事情会被解决的,这不是一个广泛的反抗的开始)
乌坎的村民告诉我们,他们已经接受了与魔鬼的契约,通过允许我们留下来,与他们谈话。
一个村民说“如果我们跟你谈话,政府就可以以与海外势力合作的罪名起诉我们”
(乌坎已被指控接受海外资助,这是暗示外国人在扰乱地方政府。中国当局非常认真的看待这类阴暗的指控)
“但是我们必需跟你谈,以便把我们的事情传出去,因为地方媒体无法报道”,村民补充说。
现在大家都知道他们的故事,但是我们都要考虑我们留下来对村民的风险是否比得益大。如果中央政府指责地方政府允许媒体的暴风雨式的批评,地方官员可能寻找替罪羊,并严厉惩罚他们。
面对双方脆弱的协商,我们也不希望我们的存在阻止他们达成平和的解决方案。昨晚,与村民及与我的编辑细心讨论后,我们认为撤退到附近关注事件发展是明智之举。
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张鹤
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“这不是一个更广泛的反抗的开始。”为什么不能是呢?
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Good choice, and smart judge. Very professional, either as a journalist or human being
 
one of the most inspiring post i read this winter.
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