Wandering China

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Protesters burn police vehicles in China [The Age]

Associated Press: Guangdong, China’s hotbed of manufacturing and the province that should more accurately known as the world’s factory. Unrest seems to have become more frequent (or perhaps media scrutiny simply more intense) – eyewitness accounts speak of unrest against the authorities over ill treatment of migrant workers. None of such reports in either Xinhua or China Daily. An Al Jazeera article that might be interesting – Security tight in riot-torn South China city (Al Jazeera, June 14, 2011) which states – ‘Residents of Xintang said they had been told not to go out at night or transmit photos of the unrest online.’  More to investigate.

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Protesters burn police vehicles in China
Source – The Age, published June 14, 2011

There are reports that Chinese police cars were smashed by protestors. Photo: AP

Protesters in southern China’s manufacturing hub torched emergency vehicles in an outburst of anger against police abuse of migrant workers, eye-witnesses said.

Sunday night’s rioting followed three days of steadily growing unrest in the town of Xintang in Guangdong province, the centre of China’s crucial export industry. Accounts of the violence have been sparse in state-controlled media, but the official Xinhua News Agency says a government team has been sent to the area to quell rumours surrounding the unrest.

While violent protests in China have become frequent over the past decade, recent weeks have seemed particularly turbulent. The vast region of Inner Mongolia last month saw its biggest street demonstrations in two decades, while a man angry over land seizures set off three home-made bombs at government buildings in a southern city, killing three people and wounding at least nine others.

Thousands attacked government offices in the central city of Lichuan last week following the alleged beating to death of a local city council member while in police custody.

Though the triggers for the events are different, most are driven by common resentments over social inequality, abuse of power and suppression of legitimate grievances.

The Chinese leadership has reacted nervously to the turmoil, especially after popular uprisings began sweeping the Middle East and North Africa this year. In recent months, hundreds of government critics have been questioned, arrested or simply disappeared.

The violence in Xintang broke out last Friday evening after a pregnant woman was pushed to the ground in a sweep against street vendors, most of whom are migrants from the southwestern province of Sichuan.

Such disputes are common and bystanders often side with the vendors and accuse police of heavy-handed tactics.

Crowds soon gathered, blocking traffic and attacking government offices with bottles and bricks, Xinhua said. Police arrested 25 people accused of inciting the unrest, Xinhua said, adding that no deaths or injuries had been reported.

Violence continued to brew and tens of thousands of people gathered on Sunday night at a major highway interchange, setting fire to more than two dozen emergency vehicles and fighting with police and paramilitary forces, said a salesman at the Xintang Ruilong clothing factory located close to the scene of the clash.

Vendors then contacted relatives and friends who arrived in groups and began smashing vehicles and fighting with security forces, he said.

A female worker from the nearby Fengcai clothing factory, also surnamed Wang, said managers barred the 400 migrant workers from leaving the plant on Sunday night.

“There were many people out on the streets late last night, shouting and trying to create chaos. Some of them even smashed police vehicles,” Ms Wang said.

Video of the protests posted online showed crowds blocking traffic, attacking cars and setting aflame buses, possibly dispatched to transport security forces.



Filed under: Al Jazeera, AP, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Democracy, Domestic Growth, Economics, Human Rights, Migrant Workers, Migration (Internal), People, Politics, Population, Reform, Social, The Age, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities

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