Yu Jianrong: Anger in the Streets
The frequency, scope and danger of the mass incidents that occurred in China during 2008 attracted a high level of attention from all corners of society. Among these incidents, three have special significance: a clash between rubber farmers and police in Yunnan’s Menglian county, protests following the death of a student in Guizhou’s Wengan county, and outrage over a business-loan insolvency in Hunan’s Jishou City.
The Menglian county incident began with farmers trying to defend their rights and later developed into a violent confrontation between police and 500 rubber farmers. Before it was over, 41 police officers were injured and nine police vehicles were smashed; two rubber farmers were killed and many injured. The trouble began when the farmers complained that their land rights were being abused by the local rubber company. Though they appealed to both the company and the government to fix the problem, they received no result. So the farmers rose up to defend their rights, and the local government used police to suppress them.
Such incidents have become more frequent over the past few years. They currently account for over 80 percent of all Chinese mass protests. They are generally triggered when workers, farmers or city residents who have a weak position in society decide to fight back against more powerful social groups infringing their legal interests. Moreover, the protesters generally use existing laws and regulations as the framework for their actions. They appeal for fair and just government mediation, and their actions are usually restrained.