Tue, Jan 24, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Protest in China leads to three-day clash with police

AP , BEIJING

Workers protesting the sale of a factory in southwestern China clashed for three days with baton-wielding police, a factory employee and a news Web site said yesterday, underscoring the country's growing social tensions.

The conflict at the No. 354 military factory in Chengdu left some of the workers injured -- one of them in critical condition, according to the Web site.

It was the latest in a series of violent clashes between authorities and citizens angry over corruption, the widening gap between rich and poor and official attempts to seize land for allegedly inadequate compensation.

The Chengdu incident occurred on Jan. 16 and lasted for three days, an employee reached by telephone said yesterday. She refused to give her name.

She said the factory was on the verge of bankruptcy and was going to be sold, but workers opposed the move.

They had confined the manager to the factory and restricted his movement, she said.

According to Boxun.com, an overseas-hosted Chinese-language Web site, the factory was worth 300 million yuan (US$37 million), but was going to be sold for 80 million yuan. Additionally, 200 million yuan in compensation promised to the workers had not been paid, Boxun said.

On Jan. 16, about 1,300 military police came to the factory to rescue the manager and a bloody struggle broke out, the employee said.

The police were prevented from entering the factory by thousands of workers and responded by beating them with clubs and electric batons, Boxun said.

The woman said she could not confirm what weapons the police used but said "there were definitely some injuries."

She could not give specific numbers.

The four hospitals in the area refused to say if anyone from the protest had been admitted. Telephones at local government offices were not answered yesterday.

At least one person was in critical condition, Boxun said.

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