Fri, Jun 17, 2011 - Page 5 News List

China detains man for spreading online rumors, causing riot

AFP, BEIJING

Police in southern China announced they have detained a person suspected of spreading rumors on the Internet that triggered violent clashes and a major security clampdown.

The public security bureau in Guangzhou announced on its official page on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, that the suspect surnamed Chen was detained on Tuesday and had confessed to publishing false information online.

The clashes in Xintang, a district in the greater Guangzhou area, began last Friday after rumors spread that police had beaten a street hawker to death and manhandled his pregnant wife.

Authorities were forced to deploy hundreds of officers and armored vehicles as the protests continued into the weekend, with people hurling bricks and bottles at local officials and police, and vandalizing ATMs and police posts.

Armed police reportedly used tear gas to disperse the crowd, and at least 25 people have been arrested so far.

The man rumored to have been killed appeared at a press conference held by the local government on Sunday, saying he, his wife and their unborn baby girl were “doing very well.”

“The false information spread on Weibo, QQ [China’s popular instant messaging service] and online forums had a nasty influence on society,” the police said late on Wednesday.

The riots in Guangdong Province, China’s industrial heartland, are the latest in a recent flare-up of unrest in the country, which analysts say highlights resentment towards an unresponsive government.

On Thursday, 1,500 people clashed with riot squads in the central province of Hubei following the alleged death in police custody of a local legislator.

Earlier last week, hundreds of people battled police and destroyed cars in another incident in Guangdong Province, after a factory worker was wounded in a knife attack over a wage dispute and late last month, thousands of ethnic Mongolians protested in northern China for several days after the killing of a herder laid bare simmering anger over what some perceive as Chinese oppression.

The protests have compounded the unease of a government already concerned that Arab-style unrest could spread to China and rising inflation spark more violence.

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