China has confirmed that police shot dead three protesters "in alarm" during an attack last week on a wind power plant, and a newspaper said yesterday the official who ordered the shooting had been detained.
Human rights group Amnesty International said it was the first time Chinese police had fired on protesters since the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy demonstrations were crushed in 1989.
Estimates from residents and rights groups put the number of dead between two and as many as 20.
Residents gave new details of last Tuesday's violence. They said they heard bursts of gunfire for at least 12 hours after the clash.
Yesterday, at least 100 police with riot shields and helmets stood guard in the village. Police stopped vehicles at roadblocks, looking for local men. There was no violence, but residents could be seen arguing angrily with police.
Police trucks drove through the village blaring promises over loudspeakers that officials would deal with local grievances.
"Have confidence in the government," the announcement said in the local dialect. "This matter will be handled well."
China's government defended the shootings, saying on Saturday that police opened fire after protesters with knives, spears and dynamite attacked a power plant and then turned on authorities. It said three people were killed and two arrested.
The government said the protests centered on land taken for use by a power plant using wind turbines, though villagers said the dispute was over a different, coal-fired power plant.
Several residents said they heard gunfire beginning at about 6pm on Tuesday. They said there were sporadic bursts of shooting through the night, lasting for about 12 hours.
"We were terrified. We all stayed inside," said a farmer who lives nearby and would give only his surname, Chen. "Even now, we all stay indoors after it gets dark."
A woman who would give only her surname, Luo, said she heard people screaming, "Save me! Save me!"
The official Xinhua news agency said in an overnight report that villagers in Dongzhoukeng and Shigongliao attacked the plant on Monday and Tuesday last week.
"The first assault on Dec. 5 caused a seven-hour suspension of the plant's power generation," Xinhua said.
"In the second onslaught, over 170 armed villagers led by instigators ... used knives, steel spears, sticks, dynamite powder, bottles filled with petroleum, and fishing detonators."
Police used tear gas to break up the protesters and arrested two, Xinhua said. The villagers then formed a blockade in a attempt to free their colleagues.
"[One of the villagers] shouted through a loudspeaker that they would throw detonators at the police and blow up the wind power plant if the police refused to retreat," Xinhua said.
"It became dark when the chaotic mob began to throw explosives at the police. Police were forced to open fire in alarm. In the chaos, three villagers died, eight were injured."
Villagers contacted on Saturday by phone gave death tolls ranging from 10 to 20. They said others were missing.
The Guangzhou Daily newspaper described the killings as a mistake and said that the Guangdong official who had ordered police to open fire had been detained.
It did not identify the official.
"The commanders at the spot did not handle the incident properly and the resulting deaths and injuries are a mistake," it said.
A middle school student said by phone the "main riots" happened on Tuesday and that police killed two villagers.
"The following morning, some families found about 20 family members missing." The next day, she said, police were no longer carrying guns, but batons.
According to the farmer Chen, the dispute began in March last year. He said farmers complained about pollution from the coal-fired power plant, which is still under construction but partly operational.
The police shootings were the deadliest known clash yet amid growing anger in areas throughout China over land seizures for construction of power plants, shopping malls and other projects.
Yesterday, government banners hung at the entrance of Dongzhou said, "Following the law is the responsibility and obligation of the people" and "Don't listen to rumors, don't let yourself be used."
The Central Weather Bureau could issue a sea alert for Super Typhoon Mawar, as it is forecast to turn north and come closest to Taiwan from Tuesday to Wednesday next week. Mawar was downgraded from a super typhoon to a typhoon after sweeping across Guam on Wednesday night, knocking down trees and leaving much of the US territory without power. Many residents of Guam yesterday remained without power and utilities after Mawar tore through the remote US Pacific territory the previous night, ripping roofs off homes, flipping vehicles and shredding trees. There were no immediate reports of deaths and injuries, but the
ADJUSTMENTS: Over the next five years, every year except 2026 would have only one makeup workday to compensate for national holidays, the government said The Executive Yuan (EY) yesterday announced the official workday calendar for next year, which includes one makeup day and four holidays with more than three days off. It also announced new standards for makeup days in the event of consecutive holidays. The Directorate-General of Personnel Administration cited the importance of the Lunar New Year and Tomb Sweeping holidays to the public as its reason to mandate flexible off-days. The 115 total off-days dovetail with dates that international financial markets are closed, minimizing the effects of state holidays on stock and currency exchange trading, it said. Over the next five years, only the calendar for
EMBRACE CHANGE: Jensen Huang told NTU graduates that instead of worrying about AI itself, they should worry that people with expertise in AI would be taking their jobs Artificial intelligence (AI) is redefining the computer industry, and Taiwanese companies could play a major role in replacing the world’s traditional computers as they are the foundation of the industry, Nvidia Corp cofounder and CEO Jensen Huang (黃仁勳) said in Taipei yesterday. Huang made the remarks while giving the keynote speech at National Taiwan University’s (NTU) commencement ceremony. AI has created immense opportunities, and versatile companies can be expected to take advantage and boost their position, while less flexible firms would perish, he said. “In every way, this is a rebirth of the computer industry and a golden opportunity for the companies of
‘ARCHAIC’: An interpretation of a law that considered Chinese as Taiwanese nationals was scrapped after the death of a Chinese in Kaohsiung led to state reparations An administrative mandate to consider Chinese as Taiwanese citizens was outdated, Premier Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) said yesterday, a day after the Executive Yuan ordered that agencies disregard the 30-year-old interpretation. Chen made the remarks at an event held by the Environmental Protection Administration in Taipei following changes to the administrative mandate concerning the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (臺灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例). The previous interpretation of the law was archaic and contrary to the workings of laws and regulations, he said, adding that the order was made to avoid unnecessary problems created by the mandate. The Mainland