Sun, Aug 14, 2011 - Page 4 News List

Order restored in SW China, official says

AP, BEIJING

Order has been restored to a southwestern Chinese town after more than 1,000 people took to the streets and clashed with police to protest the rough handling of local residents by authorities, an official said yesterday.

Residents in Qianxi County, Guizhou Province, protested after a man who had parked a car illegally clashed with chengguan, or the urban management corps, said an official from the county’s Chinese Communist Party propaganda department.

Chengguan function like -police auxiliary units, but are notorious for corruption and violence against small businesses and the poor, and are widely disliked across China.

The protest, which started on Thursday, span out of control, with more than a dozen police cars smashed or set on fire, the China Daily reported, adding that it took more than 24 hours to disperse the crowd.

“Several people, most of them teenagers, stirred up the trouble,” said the official, who would give only his surname, Wu, as is common in China.

Wu said that at the protest’s peak, more than 1,000 people gathered, but had all dispersed by Friday. More than 10 policemen were hurt, he said, but had no further details.

Such protests — often fueled by illegal land seizures, environmental problems and abuse by local officials — number in the tens of thousands every year in China.

Generally apolitical, the incidents spark a deep unease among authorities who worry they could spill out of control and go from attacks on local issues to challenging the authority Chinese Communist Party.

Chengguan are a particular concern because they are seen as constantly overstepping their authority and encroaching on citizens’ legal rights.

The China Daily quoted an official from the media office of the prefecture that oversees Qianxi County as saying the government will order the chengguan to show more restraint.

“All urban administration workers have been hired through open and legal procedures, although they may not be well-educated,” an official, Zeng Fanya (曾凡亞), was quoted as saying.

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