Re: Yongzhou news in English

From Tom Lutze <tlutze@titan.iwu.edu>
Date Tue, 13 Mar 2007 23:35:39 -0500
In-reply-to <07B6C16B-F334-46A6-9C98-53C9B46B202F@unsw.edu.au>
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This is divided into two sections: English-language media reports and translated Chinese-language reports.



( Reuters)  Thousands riot in China, attack police, smash cars .  March 12, 2007.
Thousands of Chinese farmers and laid-off workers rioted in central China, attacking police and smashing squad cars, a local official said on Monday, the latest in a string of violent demonstrations. 

Nine police cars were burnt during the riot on Friday in the central province of Hunan in which 20,000 people clashed with about 1,000 police armed with guns and electric cattle prods, a local official told Reuters.  'They did it because they were not satisfied with some government behaviour,' the official, surnamed Tan, said by telephone from the district of Lingling, which belongs to the Hunan city of Yongzhou.  'They were also unhappy about official corruption,' Tan said without elaborating.

The overseas human rights Web site Boxun (www.boxun.com) said the riot was sparked by dissatisfaction with rising public transport costs. The site, which is critical of China, is blocked on the mainland.

The Hunan official said the riot had been quelled and that scores of the rioters were arrested. The government was tracking down the organisers, she said.  Both police and rioters had been injured in the violence, and some of the rioters were sent to hospital, but none was seriously hurt, the official added.

A widening gap between rich and poor, corruption and official abuses of power have fuelled a growing number of demonstrations and riots around China, often sparked by seemingly minor issues.  The government has said the number of 'mass incidents' in the country a term that includes protests, petitions and demonstrations was about 23,000 last year.  Efforts to reduce inequality and sources of discontent have been a theme of government efforts to improve the livelihoods of its 750 million farmers.

(BBC News)  'Thousands riot' in China protest.  March 12, 2007.
A protest staged by thousands of rural workers in central China ended in violent clashes last week, reports say.  Several people were injured as up to 20,000 people clashed with 1,000 police in Hunan province on Friday, a local official told Reuters news agency.  The Boxun Chinese news website said the clash was sparked by rising public transport costs. A witness told the BBC sporadic incidents continued on Monday.

Rural regions of China have seen mounting unrest in recent years.  Thousands of protests were held last year amid growing discontent over the widening gap between rich and poor and corruption among officials at local level and above.  The latest reported unrest came as the Chinese legislature, the National People's Congress, held its annual session in Beijing.

At least nine police cars were burnt during the clashes, the Boxun report said.  Zhan Zilin, an eyewitness and a local activist, told the BBC Chinese Service that "the authorities sent over about 1,000 armed police, special police and local police and attempted to cordon off the roads in front of the local police station and government buildings".  He said the police were confronted by protesters and "large-scale conflicts broke out".

The Reuters news agency reported that police were armed with guns and electric cattle prods.  A number of police and protesters were injured - with some taken to hospital - but none were thought to be in a serious condition.  The official, from the Hunan city of Yongzhou, told Reuters that the protesters "were not satisfied with some government behaviour".  "They were also unhappy about official corruption," the official added.

The overseas-based Boxun, which is blocked inside China by the Beijing government, reported that protesters had been dissatisfied with the rising cost of bus prices.  Mr Zhan said that sporadic incidents were still going on on Monday.  "This afternoon, several dozens of people were injured, including some passers-by; four police vehicles were burned," he said.

The Chinese government has introduced a series of measures to try to address the sources of discontent in rural communities.  They include pumping billions of dollars into the rural economy in the form of farm subsidies, as well as reining in the seizures of farmland for development and tackling government corruption.

(AP via CNN.com)  '60 injured' in China protests.  March 12, 2007.

A student was killed and at least 60 people were injured in central China when villagers armed with bricks and rocks clashed with baton-wielding police over rising transportation fees, a witness and news reports said Tuesday.  Residents in Zhushan, a village in Hunan province, began gathering around a government building on Friday to protest an increase in the cost of public transportation, said Zhang Zilin, a local human rights activist.  The crowd swelled to about 20,000 by Monday and the demonstration turned violent when local authorities dispatched police, who started attacking people, said Zhang, who rushed to the scene after a resident telephoned him.

It was the latest in series of bloody confrontations between authorities and citizens, most over corruption, the widening gap between rich and poor, and official attempts to seize land.  The protesters in Zhushan were "very, very angry and were shouting 'Beat the government dogs to death,"' Zhang said in a phone interview. They were throwing rocks and bricks at the officers, he said.

At least 1,500 paramilitary police and riot police wearing helmets and carrying batons yelled back "Beat them to death," Zhang said.  "They beat everyone including old people, children, women and people who were just passing by," he said. At least 60 people were injured, Zhang said.  Zhang said he did not have any details about the student who died but Hong Kong's South China Morning Post newspaper said the boy was hospitalized on Sunday and died Monday. The newspaper said the cost of public bus travel had approximately doubled since the Lunar New Year in February.

A man who answered the telephone at the police station at Yongzhou, which oversees Zhushan village, first said he was "unclear" about the situation and then dismissed it as "rumors." Telephones were not answered at the Yongzhou government offices.




( XXPI)  [General historical background]  February 9, 2007.

[in translation]

Guaranteeing orderly prices in rural China is an important function of the Price Regulation Bureau towards the construction of a harmonious new rural China.  As such, they must actively monitor prices and pay careful attention to healthcare and medical fees, education fees, transportation fares in rural China, prices for water, electricity an coal.  They must look for various arbitrary and secret fees and fines ...

One of the task is the re-organization of rural transportation fares.  Since 2005, the rights to run these transportation routes are privatized, so that these routes became de facto monopolies with serious problems of arbitrary price hikes.  As a result, the masses are reacting strongly.  Therefore, cleaning up rural transportation has become a major sore point.  In the second half of 2005, the Price Regulation Bureau obtained the approval of the government leaders and came up with a plan that was led by a joint task force from the government, the Price Regulation Bureau, the Ministry of Transportation and three other departments to enforce the law.  Based upon the price of petrol as well as the characeristics of the vechiles, we set new prices for the various rural routes in Lingling district.  Three bus routes refused to implement the prices mandated by the government; we went to court to obtain an order to enforce the prices.  As a result, all prices in the district are now under the government0mandated level.  This project resulted in savings of over 400 RMB for the rural peasants living in this district.

(Salvaged from the Baidu cache

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