Police Struggle to Quell Mass Riots in Southern China

The riots in Xintang, Zengcheng, Guangdong are continuing several days after a confrontation in which police reportedly pushed a pregnant street vendor to the ground, sparking large-scale protests by local migrant workers. From Reuters:

Hong Kong television showed seething crowds of migrant workers from the southwestern province of Sichuan running through the streets of Zengcheng, smashing windows, setting fire to government buildings and overturning police vehicles.

Riot police were shown firing tear gas Sunday night, deploying armoured vehicles to disperse the crowds and handcuffing protesters.

Witnesses said there were more than 1,000 protesters and at least one government office had been besieged.

“People were running around like crazy,” a shopowner in the area told the South China Morning Post newspaper. “I had to shut the shop by 7 p.m. and dared not come out.”

Yet Xinhua is reporting that everything is “back to normal” in Xintang. Meanwhile, local authorities are sending out a task force to visit households and factories to correct what they call “unsubstantiated rumors” about the incident. From China Daily:

“The city government has made great efforts to tell local residents the truth about the clash by sending special working groups to visit local factories and households,” Ye told a news conference in Guangzhou on Sunday.

The clash took place in Dadun village of Xintang township on Friday night.

Wang Lianmei, a pregnant woman, and her husband Tang Xuecai had a fierce quarrel and later clashed with the village’s security personnel, who thought the couple had illegally occupied the village’s road to sell goods at about 9:30 pm on Friday.

Wang, 20, and Tang, 28, come from Kaijiang county, Sichuan province.

Wang fell to the ground during the clash, after which several police cars and an ambulance were immediately sent to the site.

After mediation, Wang and Tang agreed to stop selling goods in the street and Wang was taken to a hospital by the ambulance at 10:35 pm. However, more than 100 people gathered at the scene to prevent Wang from being sent to the hospital for examination, Ye told media.

Some of them used bottles, bricks and stones to attack the police officers.

See video footage and photos of the unrest via CDT.

The riots in Guangdong came at the same time as a riot on Hubei over the death in detention of a local official who protested a government land grab.

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