Online reports circulating in China say thousands of residents of Wansheng District in Chongqing protested and rioted today over an administrative decision to merge two separate districts. According to online reports, residents of Wansheng District are afraid their living standards and economic conditions will deteriorate after the merge. The riots occurred the same day that the central government announced that former Chongqing Party chief Bo Xilai had been dismissed from all Party posts and his wife was suspected of murder. Photos of the riot have been distributed online and compiled by Molihua Geming (Jasmine Revolution):
(“Return our Wansheng District!”)
While further details or confirmation of the incident have not been independently reported, the photos do show signs indicating they were taken in Wansheng District, and several relevant search terms, including “Wansheng,” “Qijiang” [the second district involved] and “We want to eat!” [the slogan of protesters] have all been banned today on Sina Weibo search. Several photos posted show what appear to be protesters lying on the ground and bloody.
UPDATE (7:45 am PST April 11): AP has confirmed this incident with officials in Chongqing:
The incident began at the same time late Tuesday when state media announced the purge of Bo Xilai, former party chief of the mega-industrial city, from the party’s ruling circle, and the arrest of his wife, Gu Kailai, who is suspected of involvement in a murder case.
The Chongqing official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said there was no connection between the two events. But the incident reflects the challenges local governments face as three decades of rapid economic expansion have left uneven growth.
The official said Wansheng district, where the clashes happened, is running out of mining resources and trying to modernize its economy. But its economic problems become more pronounced after it was merged into neighboring Qijiang county earlier this year, said the official, who like many Chinese officials did not want to give his name.
The official said after the merger “the economy in Wansheng was affected and residents have become upset.” The merged region has more than 1 million people.