11/08/2008, 00.00
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Shenzhen: clashes between crowd and police, dozens injured

The cause was the death of a motorcyclist, during a patrol of the highway. His relatives accuse the police, who deny any responsibility. Demonstrators threw Molotov cocktails and rocks at the officers, who responded by beating them. Every day, China is shaken by hundreds of popular uprisings.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Calm has returned to Shenzhen (Guangdong), after the serious clashes between crowds and security forces yesterday, November 7. At the origin of the violence was the death of a motorcyclist, who is believed not to have stopped when ordered to halt by officers patrolling in Bao’An, the most populous of the six districts that make up the city.

Li Guochao, 31, was riding on a motorcycle without a license plate. It is thought that when the guards ordered him to halt, he tried to break through the roadblock; one of the officers threw his walkie-talkie at him, making him lose control of the vehicle, which struck a pylon. The motorcyclist died shortly after his arrival at the hospital, because of the serious injuries he had suffered in the crash.

The security forces justify themselves by saying that "at the moment in which the event took place, no policeman" was present at the site of the accident, but only a highway officer "300 meters from the point where the accident took place." The relatives of Li Guochao "are incorrect in thinking that the checkpoint was set up by the highway police of Shiyan," the neighborhood where the incident took place.

It's a misunderstanding, according to the security forces. But it's the fault of the police, according to the relatives, who transported the body of the motorcyclist in front of the headquarters of the highway police and threw a number of Molotov cocktails. The tension increased to the point of violent clashes between police officers and hundreds of demonstrators, who threw stones at the agents.

A fishing village until the end of the 1970's, today Shenzhen, not far from Hong Kong, is a modern metropolis with 8 million inhabitants; it was the theater of the first economic reforms implemented by Deng Xiaoping, and is still the country's leading industrial area.

China is not unaccustomed to popular revolts and clashes between policemen and private citizens, exasperated by the climate of impunity around security forces and party officials. On September 5 in the county of Shenqui (Henan), thousands of students clashed with police in hours of guerrilla fighting. They were protesting against the closing of sports facilities in order to build real estate projects of a speculative nature; dozens were injured.

On Thursday, September 4, thousands of agents and demonstrators clashed in two different protests: the first took place in Jishou (Hunan), where 10,000 people poured into the streets of the city calling for restitution of funds embezzled by a fund-raising company. The second took place in Ningbo, on the east coast of China, during which more than 10,000 demonstrators assaulted a company calling for justice for a young man who, according to eyewitnesses, was thrown from one of the windows, suffering numerous injuries.

Last June, the province of Guizhou was the theater of a genuine popular uprising, with tens of thousands of people calling for justice over the death of a young woman; the demonstration was violently repressed by the police and riot units of the Chinese army.

The revolts by private citizens are a sign of the widespread discontent among the Chinese, indignant over constant episodes of corruption among party members and local government officials, in spite of the slogans issued by President Hu Jintao, who praises the "harmonious society" and economic development for all.

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Shanghai, government, PA: a war is on against pilgrimages to the Marian shrine of Sheshan
Uprisings in Yunnan and Hainan: police fire on the crowds
Migrants in revolt: protests in Zhejiang, arrests in Guizhou
"Harmonious society" in crisis: police, demonstrators clash in Jishou and Ningbo
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