05/31/2007, 00.00
CHINA
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Fresh protests in Guangxi against the one child policy

In cities across the region crowds have besieged public offices and clashed with police, protesting against excessive taxes for families with more than one child. Hundreds of extra forces have been called in to keep the area under control, while authorities insist that they have merely applied the law.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) –Fresh protests against the national one child policy are spreading in Guangxi. People are being driven to exasperation and it is feared that there could be an outbreak of violent social unrest, but the authorities maintain that they are merely applying state law.

May 29th in Yangmei, eastern Rongxian, and several thousand people ransacked the main government office demanding that fines extorted for the violation of the country’s one child policy be returned.   Vehicles were set on fire and about 100 police were called in.  Some protesters were injured or detained.

The same day in nearby Lingshan residents smashed government office building windows, and police later arrested some protesters. Other less violent protests also took place in at least 8 other cities in the county.  Yesterday extra troops were called in to maintain order in the area.

Sate agency Xinhua Citing local police, said the riots took place but were instigated by a few unidentified people. However a Yangmei told the South China Morning Post that “It's a self-organised protest. Nobody is telling us what to do. We have put up with their abuse for too long. Now we want to express our anger”.

According to the web site of the Yulin prefecture, which administrates both Rongxian and Bobai, 7 people have been arrested for inciting public disorder.  Ding Shan, the police chief in Yulin, defines the one child policy as legal warning it will be strictly enforced.  He appeared in television calling on residents to inform on “lawbreakers” whereabouts.

Since the 80’s Beijing allows couples to have only one child, two to farming families if the first born is female.  The policy is coming under increasing criticism even in government circles, because of the rapidly aging population, the increasing lack of a labour force, and the growing gap in the male – female ratio.  Official data shows that moreover 35% of the population does not respect the law.  In Guangxi the government has been applying this law rigidly since February, doling out heavy fines (local sources speak of thousands of Yuan, which far exceed a family’s annual income) for each forbidden child.  Those who fail to pay are subjected to police raids of their home, in which every object of value is taken away.  Local sources also speak of forced abortions and operations to prevent women from having more children.  Two weeks ago in Bobai county thousands of demonstrators besieged and set public offices on fire, destroyed vehicles and clashed with police.

 

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