Archive for ‘public protest’


Four Chinese activists shave heads to protest ‘persecution’ of husbands

BEIJING (Reuters) – The wives of four of China’s most prominent rights lawyers and activists shaved their heads on Monday in protest over what they called the “persecution” of their husbands by the government.

Liu Ermin, wive of a prominent Chinese rights lawyer, has her head shaved in protest over the government’s treatment of her husband in Beijing, China, December 17, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Since taking office in 2012, Chinese President Xi Jinping has overseen a crackdown on dissent, with hundreds of rights lawyers and activists being detained, arrested and jailed.

Four wives of lawyers detained during a July 2015 sweep known as the 709 crackdown gathered in the central park of a sleepy Beijing apartment complex and cut off their hair in front of neighbours and a small group of invited foreign journalists.

The women took turns shaving each other’s heads, placing the hair in see-through plastic boxes alongside pictures of them with their husbands, before heading to China’s Supreme People’s Court to petition over their husbands’ treatment.

Li Wenzu, who says she has been unable to visit her husband, rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang, since he went missing in the 2015 crackdown, told reporters that the act was to protest against the way her husband’s case was being handled.

Li said judges in Wang’s trial had unlawfully delayed proceedings and prevented her from appointing a lawyer of her choosing.

Wang is being held in Tianjin on suspicion of subverting state power, but both Li and seven lawyers she has appointed to try and represent Wang have been unable to visit him, she said.

“We can go hairless, but you cannot be lawless,” they announced at the end of the ceremony, a pun in Chinese, as the words for “hair” and “law” sound similar.

Requests for comment faxed to China’s Supreme People’s Court and the Tianjin Number 2 Intermediate People’s Court, where Wang’s case is set to be heard at an unknown date, went unanswered.

Li, Wang and other family members of rights lawyers and activists who have been detained or jailed have in recent years taken up their loved ones’ causes and attempting to keep pressuring the government into allowing their release.

The authorities have responded using “soft” detention measures, such as house arrest, to keep family members from getting their message out, rights activists have said.


Violent veterans rally in China leads to 10 arrests

Ten suspects have been arrested for organising a “serious attack” on police officers during a veterans’ protest in northern China in October, according to state media.

According to People’s Daily, the accused organised a protest by 300 people from across the country, calling for better benefits for veterans, at a major public square in Pingdu, Shandong province.

During the assembly, some of the rally participants, led by the 10 suspects, acted violently towards the police and smashed police vehicles, the provincial police authority said, adding that their actions had caused injuries and led to substantial economic losses.

The report said 34 people, including an unknown number of police officers, were wounded in the violence, including two senior people officers who were seriously injured. In addition, a police bus and three private cars were destroyed.

More than 100 shops were forced to close during the rally and 11 buses had to change their routes to avoid the violence. Direct economic losses were estimated to have reached 8.2 million yuan (US$1.1 million).

The incident, on October 6, attracted the attention of the Ministry of Public Security as one of only a few large-scale examples of social unrest on the mainland over the past few years.

The People’s Daily report did not say if the 10 suspects were veterans, but local police said they had “complicated backgrounds” including criminal records in some cases.

All of the arrested are residents of Pingdu.

They are alleged to have used social media to contact people across the country and to have encouraged them to file petitions in Beijing during the “golden week” holiday, at the start of October, while posing as tourists.

They are also accused of spreading fake messages on social media after their plans were thwarted by authorities in Pingdu.

The suspects are reported to have told their followers they had been beaten up by government officials and encouraged them to support them by coming to the city.

At noon on October 6, about 300 people appeared at the People’s Hall square in Pingdu, waving banners and chanting slogans, although the report was unclear what they were calling for.

Two of the accused are said to have addressed the event, inciting people to use violence against the government.

One of the suspects, surnamed Ge, 46, was quoted as saying: “Bring wooden sticks and iron shovels with you. Hit their heads and beat them to death.”

Another suspect, surnamed Ji, 55, is alleged to have said: “We should kill more people to shock the whole nation”, according to the report.

Police said the suspects hired cars to take 105 sticks, 60 hammers, 16 dry powder extinguishers and a bag of talcum powder to the assembly site.

According to a local government statement, offers to negotiate with the protesters were rejected. The demonstrators also refused to leave the square until they received financial compensation from the government.

The conflict is believed to have been triggered when police tried to stop people crossing a cordon to join the 30 protesters originally within the square.

A tussle ensued and eight people were taken to a police bus parked nearby.

Several minutes later, three of the suspects are said to have led 60 protesters in an attack on the police. The windows of the police bus were smashed and the fire extinguisher was discharged into the vehicle, forcing police officers and the eight detained protesters to climb on to the roof of the bus to escape the fumes.

According to the report, the protesters threw stones at the police officers while also continuing to spray them with the fire extinguisher.

The police officers behaved in accordance with the law throughout the riot, which lasted for 11 minutes, the report said.

The report did not say how many people who took part in the rally were veterans.

Police said one of the suspects, surnamed Zheng, had previously been jailed for obstructing police and provoking trouble. Another suspect, surnamed Yang, had previously been caught with drugs.

Police also said a suspect surnamed Liu had been jailed for two years for theft, while another, surnamed Ge, had previously been sentenced to two years in jail for fraud.

Veterans have been an important issue for the mainland authorities this year, with the establishment in April of the new Ministry of Veterans Affairs.

The ministry has been collecting personal information from veterans across the country between August and December, as a “first step” in developing a policy on what packages veterans will receive from China’s governments in future, according to officials.

Last month the ministry and the Communist Party’s Central Propaganda Department spearheaded a nationwide role model campaign in which the nation’s 10 “most beautiful veterans” were selected.


China, Duterte and the Philippine dam set to become a reality, despite four decades of protest

  • Dumagats fear US$232 million project will displace them from lands they have called home for generations
  • Project aims to augment water security for fast-growing metropolitan Manila
  • Deep inside the Sierra Madre mountain range about 60km (37 miles) east of the Philippine capital of Manila, distance is measured in river crossings.

    Deep inside the Sierra Madre mountain range about 60km (37 miles) east of the Philippine capital of Manila, distance is measured in river crossings.

    It takes 13 crossings – a rocky journey by motorcycle, jeep or boat – from the administrative centre of the Santa Ines district to reach the remote area known as Sitio Nayon, the ancestral lands of the historically nomadic Dumagat tribe.

    Even by jeepney, the ubiquitous open-backed passenger truck, the journey takes an hour. Despite the distance, dozens of anxious villagers came together at the local community hall one afternoon to speak out against what they see as a looming threat to their way of life: the China-funded Kaliwa dam.

    “What will happen if we are forced to go elsewhere? We don’t know where to go,” Dante Alcien, from a nearby district in Lumutan, Quezon province, said to the villagers. “The Chinese government is committing a grave sin by building this dam. They are invading our territory.”

    The Dumagats fear that the 12.2 billion peso (US$231 million) mega dam, being built to augment water security for rapidly urbanising Metro Manila will displace them from the lands they have called home for generations.

    While the government projected that only 56 families would be directly displaced by the dam, villagers are concerned about the unknowns: a lack of information from the government, the potential environmental and flooding impact, and the prospect of approval for bigger dams in their river basin.

    Across the affected areas of Quezon and Rizal provinces, indigenous peoples have geared up for a long fight. It is a battle that has been raging for nearly four decades – starting in the late 1970s, when the project was first conceived during then strongman Ferdinand Marcos’ dictatorship.

    In late November, the dam officially got the go-ahead to proceed when a loan agreement and commercial contract were signed during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s high-profile visit to Manila. Twenty-nine deals were signed during his trip, marking the rapprochement between the two countries under the administration of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

    The Kaliwa dam has been both a priority for China in the Philippines and a flagship water project for Duterte’s “Build, Build, Build” programme. Officials aimed to break ground quickly to allay concerns about the security of Manila’s water supply and the length of time it is taking the promised Chinese funds to come through.

    “It doesn’t look good that after waiting for 38 years, your president … cannot even inaugurate it, and this is just a small project in relation to the others,” said Reynaldo Velasco, administrator of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, the government agency that heads the project. “This is how we do things in the Philippines; only in the Philippines.”

    The dam will supply an extra 600 million litres (158.5 million gallons) of water per day to Metro Manila – the seat of government and one of the three defined metropolitan areas of the Philippines. It was approved for construction in May 2014 by the National Economic and Development Authority and is the first phase of the broader New Centennial Water Source project, likely to be followed by the larger Kanan and Laiban dams.

    All three projects will stem from the Kaliwa-Kanan-Agos River Basin, with the Kaliwa dam set to be built in eastern Quezon province and connected to Metro Manila through neighbouring Rizal province by a 27.7km water supply tunnel, capable of conveying 2.4 billion litres per day.

    Chinese funding was earmarked for the Kaliwa dam as part of the US$9 billion in pledges that Duterte secured from Beijing in 2016.

    The Chinese government has poured funding into megaprojects around the world, in what observers see as a concerted effort to expand the country’s global presence and influence.

    Projects funded by Beijing have drawn criticism for laxer lending standards, and raised questions about transparency and the involvement of state-owned contractors. But Duterte, known for his anti-Western rhetoric, welcomes Chinese trade and aid, including Beijing’s support for his bloody war on drugs.

    For the Kaliwa dam, the financing model is official development assistance from China, switched over in June 2017 from a public-private partnership. The Export-Import Bank of China, the state-owned provider of export financing, will fund 85 per cent of the project, with the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System footing the rest of the bill.

    Under the official development help model, the Chinese embassy in the Philippines recommended three Chinese companies for the dam. State-owned China Energy was formally awarded the contract in August.

    Construction is expected to begin next year and finish by 2023, but Velasco has asked the Chinese contractor to finish the dam before Duterte’s term ends in 2022, joking that he would hang the company’s country manager from a large tree if it was not finished in time.

    “I already put out the rope for him – I’m just kidding,” he said in his office. “I’m asking them, because it is a big giant company in China, to do it earlier, before my president steps down … It’s possible. They have the technology. We have vetted their capabilities, and we agreed that they should work 24 hours [a day].

    “Of course, we cannot push them too hard, [potentially] sacrificing the quality of the work.”

    Globally, concern has been growing about the potential “debt trap” lurking in Chinese development projects. In the Philippines, worries are compounded by a 2007 government kickbacks scandal with a Chinese telecoms company, and by historic tensions from overlapping claims in the energy-rich South China Sea, waters that Manila refers to as the West Philippine Sea.

    “The Chinese are already claiming our territory in the West Philippine Sea, and now they want to gain more by entering into a contract for this dam,” Alcien, the Dumagat villager from Quezon, said. “Are they content yet from how much they have got? It feels like the Chinese are being greedy.”

    So far, foreign direct investment from China accounts for only about 3 per cent of the Philippines’ total, lagging far behind countries such as Japan, the United States and Indonesia. But Chinese capital has been flowing into the country rapidly, nearly doubling in the first three months of this year. In 2017, Chinese investment in the Philippines surged 67 per cent from a year earlier to US$53.8 million.

    Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in late November that it was impossible for the Philippines to fall into a “debt trap” from accepting China’s loans, since those borrowings made up only a small amount of the country’s total foreign debt.

    “China funds projects in the Philippines based on their needs,” Geng said. “We believe that the relevant projects will continue to improve people’s livelihoods and spur economic development, giving new impetus for their growth.”

    One much-touted Chinese investment is the US$62 million Chico River Pump irrigation project. Led by the Philippines’ National Irrigation Administration, the system will provide “a stable supply of water” to around 8,700 hectares (25,000 acres) of agricultural land, benefit 4,350 farmers and their families and serve 21 districts in the northern Luzon provinces of Cagayan and Kalinga, according to a government report.

    Although originally envisioned as a dam, it was eventually scaled down to a river pump amid decades of local resistance.

    “It’s only our current president who likes China. Before, it’s always the US [with whom the Philippines had close ties], right?” said Ricardo Visaya, administrator for the National Irrigation Administration, which also provided technical consultation for the Kaliwa dam.

    “But really, you can see the result of the cooperation that we established with China … and compared to other countries, it’s cheaper. So there are some [criticisms]. That is normal. There will always be negative reactions as well as positive reactions.”

    Velasco, from the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, said debt would not be an issue for Kaliwa. The Chinese contractor, following Velasco’s instructions, would also hire Filipinos for non-technical jobs to spur local development, he said.

    “We don’t want people from outside to bully us,” Velasco said. “They are all employees, we are the employer … They have no other choice, or I will send them back home and I will ask their government to change them.”

    China Energy did not respond to multiple requests for comment. The Chinese consulate in the Philippines declined to make ambassador Zhao Jianhua available for an interview, and did not respond to specific questions about the Kaliwa dam.

    The dam is intended as a medium-term solution to Metro Manila’s water security, supplementing the Angat Dam, which provides most of the city’s water. According to the waterworks and sewerage system, water supply levels for the city are 7 to 10 per cent above demand, and planning ahead will avoid the need to substantially raise consumers’ water tariffs.

    International entities such as the World Bank and the Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB) are also working with Metro Manila on its water security programme, with ADB financing the Angat water transmission project and providing consultation for the Kaliwa dam.

    “We are helping them [on Kaliwa]. That project was there, even before, but we will be continuing our assistance on the strategy – technical assistance,” Ramesh Subramaniam, director general of Southeast Asia for the ADB, said.

    But Philippine environmental and rights groups have disputed the need for the Kaliwa dam, pointing to alternatives such as greater adoption of green water catchment – the collection of rainwater – as well as improving water efficiency in existing pipelines and using smaller-scale water sourcing projects.

    They argue the dams of the New Centennial Water Source project could increase the risks of flooding and damage to 28,000 hectares of forest, while displacing at least 30,000 mostly indigenous people.

    “We’re questioning the logic of a water project that will contribute to the degradation to the forests of the watershed,” said Leon Dulce, national coordinator for the environmental advocacy group Kalikasan. Alternatives existed that “do not require this scale of risk”, he said.

    Dulce and others warned that fierce opposition and action from local governments and communities in Quezon and Rizal could stall the project. That action could include petitioning the Philippines Supreme Court to grant a Writ of Nature against the dam to protect a constitutionally guaranteed right to a healthy environment.

    Though government officials such as Velasco call the dam a “done deal”, indigenous communities on the ground are not likely to budge because the stakes are so high.

    “The Dumagat and Remontados [tribes] have a symbiotic relationship with nature, living in their ancestral domain for centuries,” said Pete Montallana, chair of the Save Sierra Madre Network Alliance, and coordinator of the Indigenous Peoples Apostolate of the Prelature of Infanta. “Their culture is attached to that. To uproot them is literally to kill them as a people.”

    Ramcy Astoveza, a Dumagat member of the National Commission on Indigenous People, said the law ensured indigenous communities in the Philippines to the right to free, prior, and informed consent, or the power to approve or disapprove any project in their ancestral domain, including the Kaliwa dam. The commission would facilitate the process for the government to obtain consent of the Dumagat-Remontado in Tanay and General Nakar, Quezon, he said.

    Also in Santa Ines, more than 100 villagers gathered on a Saturday morning for mass at the local Catholic Church, where leaders introduced a resolution to oppose the dam and assert the people’s rights to their ancestral lands.

    After a detailed explanation of the implications of the project from Jennifer Haygood, senior researcher from the Ibon Foundation, an independent think tank, the priest asked people to stand if they opposed the dam. Everyone, young and old, rose in the narrow wooden pews.

    “At the end of the day, we just have to fortify our local community’s defences,” Dulce said.

    “They are the first and last line of defence against these projects. They have been able to successfully barricade against the dam for 40 years, and together with the indigenous people, we are ready to barricade against the dam for 40 more years, if it has to come to that point.”

    Several river crossings away, at the Sitio Nayon community hall, dozens sat among shelves of donated books to air their grievances and fears. Just outside was their coveted river, and around the bend unpaved paths littered with slabs of rock. All around were long stretches of greenery that bled into the rugged outline of the Sierra Madre: balete fig trees, heartleaf plants, coconut trees and dragonfruit plantations.

    “I have been part of the resistance since I was young,” said a semi-nomadic villager named Miling, 66. “Because for us, this land is our life.”

    Another elder, a septuagenarian known as Loida, recalled travelling into the city to protest when she was younger. But she has since passed the baton to her grandchildren. As she spoke, she turned to her fellow villagers, her voice steady but her tone urgent.

    “I have not spoken to President Duterte personally, but he promised he would support us indigenous people,” she said. “But what is he doing now? He wants us to drown.


Seven People Attempt Suicide Protesting Illegal Land Seizures – Businessweek

On Wednesday morning at about 8:10 a.m., seven people who had traveled together to Beijing from southeastern Jiangsu province met outside the offices of the China Youth Daily newspaper. They carried with them black bottles containing pesticides, which they opened and quickly drank.

Seven People Attempt Suicide Protest in Beijing Over Illegal Land Seizures

In rural China, consuming pesticides is one of the most common methods of suicide; the seven chose this as an act of desperate protest. Petition papers that lay askew, near where the five men and two women fell unconscious on the pavement, indicate that the group had come to Beijing to petition national authorities to intervene over land seizures and forced demolitions in their hometown.

Photos of the seven lying on the ground, all wearing white t-shirts, were distributed widely over Chinese social media. Soon police and ambulances arrived, and the victims were taken to local hospitals. According to China newspaper reports, they remained alive and in stable condition as of Thursday evening.

via Seven People Attempt Suicide Protesting Illegal Land Seizures – Businessweek.


Beijing’s Struggle to Keep People in Their Place – China Real Time Report – WSJ

China’s Communist Party has a message for the country’s put-upon rural residents: Don’t come to us, we’ll come to you.

Earlier this week, Beijing announced new regulations banning citizens from petitioning outside their home provinces – essentially an effort to keep the country’s poor and disgruntled from bringing their grievances to the capital.

At the same time, the Party is insisting that more of its members meet people where they live, employing “pocket cadres” whose mission is to, as the People’s Daily put it, “go the last mile, [and] have a more direct relationship with the masses.”

Chinese leaders have tried to keep aggrieved rural residents in their place before, with little success. The effort to reach out to them through this new campaign appears to be an acknowledgement of past failures. But it also betrays a nostalgia for political ideas that seem out of step with some of the major realities of the moment.

The purpose of the “pocket cadre” campaign — which has been taking place primarily in China’s countryside — is two-fold:  to listen more to the complaints of residents in various regions “by going face-to-face, through home visits to hear their voices”; and to educate the masses about what the Party is already accomplishing on their behalf.

That way, Beijing believes, Party representative will be then “better able to do practical things for the people, problem-solving things.”

The “pocket” part of the strategy, according to Xinhua, refers to satchels that cadres carry on these missions to “collect suggestions from villagers” and to cart in needed items such as salt and medicine to outlying areas that residents have requested.

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These officials also often carry a “pocket-sized book”– which is “small in size, convenient to take along, and which can be used to commit to memory and allow Party members to convey current policies in a format that the masses can grasp easily.”

By making these treks into villages, the Party displays an interest in the daily lives of rural inhabitants, and pushes officials to play a role in resolving local disputes — while also pinpointing potential sources of discontent before they emerge.

The upside of this initiative is not inconsiderable. Rural residents appear to appreciate the concern shown by cadres, and have come to rely on both their visits and the appearance of “demand boxes“ that enable citizens to identify specific complaints but have them acted on locally.

Party representatives also have to be pleased that people who might otherwise petition higher levels for redress have a new avenue for seeking out officials to help solve their problems.

Finally, there’s the chance that this experiment, which is largely targeted on the Chinese countryside, could be employed elsewhere in the country, and provide a precursor for greater political dialogue in the society.

via Beijing’s Struggle to Keep People in Their Place – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

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What Drives China’s Protest Boom? Labor Disputes and Land Grabs – Businessweek

What are the main reasons Chinese take to the streets, picket government offices, and besiege factory gates? A recent report by the Chinese Academy of Social Science provides some answers on why people protest, a question that keeps China’s party officials awake at night.

Workers gathering on a square before the government headquarters in Wenling, east China's Zhejiang province on Feb. 17

Most protests erupt over labor disputes and land grabs, according to the Annual Report on China’s Rule of Law No 12 (2014), also known as the Blue Book of Rule of Law. The analysis reviewed 871 “mass incidents”—protests involving more than 100 people—carried out by more than 2.2 million people from January 2000 through September of last year, as the official China Daily reported.

As China’s leaders push for faster urbanization, with plans to convert hundreds of millions more farmers into city dwellers, land disputes are a growing problem likely to get even bigger. “In land acquisitions and forced demolitions, for example, many officials often overlook public interest,” Shan Guangnai of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences told the official newspaper.

The majority of the protests involved fewer than 1,000 people. Still, almost one-third of the incidents included between 1,000 and 10,0000 people, and 10 megaprotests involved more than 10,000 people demonstrating en masse. Of the largest, half were protesting pollution issues. The two other main causes were traffic accidents and conflicts involving China’s many ethnic groups, which include Tibetans, Muslim Uighurs, and Mongolians.

Almost one-half of the protests were directed at government, with disputes due to problems with law enforcement, land acquisitions, and forced demolitions involving local officials, plus various other rights issues. The remainder of the demonstrations focused on conflicts with enterprises, landlords, schools, and village committees. The large majority of protests—about four-fifths—were organized rather than spontaneous, and 36 incidents resulted in a total of 79 deaths.

The report also showed that protests occur most often in more-developed regions, including eastern and southern China, with Guangdong province alone accounting for about 30 percent. And the number of incidents is rising each year.

via What Drives China’s Protest Boom? Labor Disputes and Land Grabs – Businessweek.

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China’s Coming Terrorism Wave | China Power | The Diplomat

Prediction time: China will experience unprecedented terrorism over the next few years.


On October 27, a carload of Xinjiang residents made headlines by crashing into a Tiananmen Square crowd, killing two people while injuring 38. Then, on Wednesday, a series of explosions rocked the provincial Communist Party headquarters in Shanxi province, killing one person while injuring 8.

This recent uptick in political violence is not an anomaly for China, but a harbinger of terrorist violence to come.

Several long-term trends put China at risk.

China’s footprint on the world stage is growing while the United States is retrenching internationally. The recent travel schedules of Xi Jinping and Barack Obama are telling. At a time when Barack was cancelling trips to attend the APEC Summit in Indonesia, the East Asia Summit in Brunei, and his planned visits to the Philippines and Malaysia, Xi was wrapping up tours of Indonesia, Malaysia, Russia, Tanzania, South Africa, the Congo, Mexico, Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kurdistan, and Turkmenistan. Look for Xi and he’s probably overseas. Look for Obama and he’s probably at home, wrangling with Congress.

Historically, Americans have been the preferred target of international terrorism, while China has been virtually spared. Americans have been the most popular target because of their country’s hegemonic position around the globe, which inevitably breeds mistrust, resentment, and ultimately counterbalancing. Professor Robert Pape at the University of Chicago has found that foreign meddling is highly correlated with incurring suicide terrorist campaigns. With its comparatively insular foreign policy, China has understandably elicited less passion and violence among foreign terrorists.

But the trajectories of the U.S. and China are now inverting. Reeling from its botched counterinsurgency campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States is engulfed in an unmistakable wave of isolationism. Meanwhile, China is rapidly converting its rising economic power into ever greater international leverage. This newfound orientation makes sense geopolitically, but will not come without costs.

Moving forward, China will contend with not only international terrorism, but also the domestic variety. This is because China is likely to follow (albeit belatedly) the post-Cold War Zeitgeist towards democratization. China will neither become a Jeffersonian democracy nor continue to disenfranchise political dissidents. Instead, it will inch closer to a “mixed” regime, a weak democratic state. This regime type is precisely the kind that sparks domestic political unrest. Such governments are too undemocratic to satisfy citizens, but too democratic to snuff them out.

Add to this brew globalization and the government’s critics at home and abroad will be better informed about both Chinese policy and how to mobilize against it, including violently.

via China’s Coming Terrorism Wave | China Power | The Diplomat.


Blasts at China regional Communist Party office kill one – BBC News

A series of small blasts have killed at least one person outside a provincial office of the ruling Communist Party in northern China, state media report.

The blasts in Taiyuan in Shanxi province appeared to have been caused by home-made bombs, Xinhua reported.

It said eight people had been injured and two cars damaged.

Photos posted on social media showed smoke and several fire engines at the scene of the incident, which happened around 07:40 local time (23:40 GMT).

No immediate explanation has been given for the incident. There have been occasions in the past where disgruntled citizens have targeted local government institutions.

They do not often make the headlines but explosions in China\’s cities are not unheard of. Earlier this year, in another part of Shanxi Province, Chinese media reported that a bomb exploded outside the house of a local law official, killing his daughter. The culprit was a pensioner enraged by a court ruling against him.

Last year the BBC reported on a suicide bombing in Shandong, carried out by a disabled man upset by lack of compensation for an industrial accident. Every year there are examples of attacks with crude weapons or explosives, carried out by the desperate, the dispossessed and the disturbed, usually triggered by a dispute with some arm of local government or a local official.

It\’s too early to say whether the explosions on Wednesday follow the same pattern. But some details will worry the authorities: the ball bearings apparently placed inside the bombs, increasing their destructive power; the fact that witnesses reported several explosions over a period of time. And the bombs were placed outside the local Communist Party headquarters – was the party itself the target, or was this just the product of a local dispute?

The authorities will especially be nervous after last week\’s apparent suicide attack outside the gates of the Forbidden City, especially as the capital also prepares to host a meeting of China\’s Communist Party elite on Saturday.

Tensions are also high in the wake of last week\’s incident in Beijing. A car ploughed into a crowd in Tiananmen Square in what the authorities said was a terrorist attack incited by extremists from the western region of Xinjiang.

Later this week, the Communist Party\’s top officials will meet in Beijing to start a major economic planning meeting.

via BBC News – Blasts at China regional Communist Party office kill one.


Tiananmen crash ‘incited by Islamists’ – BBC News

China\’s top security official says a deadly crash in Beijing\’s Tiananmen Square was incited by the East Turkestan Islamic Movement.

The crash occurred on Monday when a car ploughed into a crowd then burst into flames, killing three people inside the vehicle and two tourists.

Police have arrested five suspects, all from the western region of Xinjiang, home to minority Uighur Muslims.

Security has also been tightened in Xinjiang, which borders Central Asia.

China often blames the ETIM group for incidents in Xinjiang. But the BBC correspondent in Beijing says few believe that the group has any capacity to carry out any serious acts of terror in China.

Uighur groups claim China uses ETIM as an excuse to justify repressive security in Xinjiang.

via BBC News – Tiananmen crash ‘incited by Islamists’.


In rare move, China regulator voices concern for detained reporter | Reuters

So public protests sometimes works. See also –

“China’s central publishing regulator, in a rare acknowledgement of the rights of journalists, expressed concern on Thursday about a detained reporter, a case that has stirred outrage after a newspaper pleaded with police on its front page to let him go.

Chen Yongzhou was detained after writing more than a dozen stories criticizing the finances of a major state-owned construction equipment maker, a move that coincides with new curbs on journalists, lawyers and internet users in China.

“The General Association of Press and Publishing (GAPP) resolutely supports the news media conducting normal interviewing and reporting activities and resolutely protects journalists\’ normal and legal rights to interview,” the China Press and Publishing Journal, which is overseen by the association itself, said, citing an association official.

“At the same time, it resolutely opposes any abuse of the right to conduct interviews.”

The article said the association was paying “close attention” to the matter.”

via In rare move, China regulator voices concern for detained reporter | Reuters.

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