Social unrest, new media, and recent riots in Jieyang

In Asia Times, Paul Mooney makes the point that the recent upsurge in unrest we have been reading about in China’s countryside may be due as much to improved communications as to an increase in incidents: “Making matters worse for the government, China’s ‘new media’ appear to be reaching a critical mass. While news of unrest is usually blacked out of the Chinese media, word is now spreading quickly via the widespread use of modern communications, including mobile phones, faxes, instant messages and the Internet, reaching Chinese nationwide. Activists in China have also become more adept at communicating with the foreign media. Within the past year, for example, dissatisfied Chinese citizens have begun to contact foreign journalists directly using mobile phones, short messages, faxes and e-mail.” The full report is here.

Still, not all incidents find their way into the English language media. Local media in Jieyang, Guangdong, have reported on a riot on November 10 by villagers who burned a bridge toll collection station in protest against excessive tolls. Boxun has reported that the incident escalated after a fire truck forced its way through the angry crowd, running down two people and killing a child. According to Hong Kong’s Mingpao (via Duowei), up to 30,000 residents gathered and armed police were sent in to control the conflict. Police have announced that 17 people have been arrested so far in the incident.

The official announcement about the incident from the Jieyang PSB is here. The official media coverage of the incident is here, from the local Jieyang Daily.

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