Tianjin Bomb Blast Adds to Unrest; Two People Wounded

It’s been an unsettling weekend in China, with major riots in Hubei and Guangzhou. State media is also reporting a bomb blast outside municipal office buildings in Tianjin on Friday, in which two people were wounded. From the Wall Street Journal:

The blast, in the port city of Tianjin, slightly injured two people, the state-run Xinhua news agency said. It was the third explosion at government facilities over the past three weeks. Police have also faced violent unrest among migrant street vendors in one southern Chinese city and among residents of another city in central China in the last few days.

The unrest comes as China’s government, unnerved by Mideast unrest, is in the midst of a sustained crackdown on dissent ahead of the party’s 90th anniversary on July 1, and for a once-a-decade leadership change next year, when President Hu Jintao and others are due to retire from their party posts.

Incidents of unrest used to be concentrated in rural areas, experts say, but are increasingly happening in cities, too. The series of blasts at government facilities are especially worrying for China’s Communist Party leaders as explosives—chemicals for which are widely available across the country—are not frequently used in such protests and could trigger copycat attacks, analysts say.

Chinese leaders have repeatedly denied the need for democratic reforms, while calling instead for limited reforms within the party and better “social management.” But tThe recent events illustrate the scale and the complexity of the problems China’s leaders face amid public anger over issues including land and labor rights, corruption, inflation, property prices, and scandals over food and the environment.

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