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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