09/08/2009, 00.00
Send to a friend

Tighter police controls imposed as protests increase

Official media say that mass social unrest has increased in 2009, despite tighter security measures and greater police deployment. Ordinary Chinese increasingly resort to street protests to demand justice because of the absence of legal means to protect their rights.
Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Mass incidents involving more than 500 people jumped in the first half of this year for the first time since 2005, a trend that comes at a time when Beijing is tightening security measures ahead of next 1 October, 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

The information was reported in Outlook, a reliable Xinhua-affiliated magazine to explain this year’s unprecedented security measures. The report did not contain any data about the problem, but a commonly cited figure was 80,000 incidents last year, a 10-fold jump from 1993.

Even though the government has not released any detailed information about the problem, the Outlook article blames it on unequal distribution of wealth, the dearth of social services (like health care and workers’ compensation) and widespread corruption.

Analysts note that unrest is also due to the lack of institutional safety valves that allow people to voice their dissent, report corruption or obtain justice.

In a country where the authorities are unwilling to accept any criticism and the justice system is entirely subordinated to the Communist Party, anyone filing a petition can be arrested or sent back home.

For many communities the only way to vent their frustration is to take to the streets to protest and loudly denounce injustices in the tiny hope the authorities might listen. In fact this worked for residents living near polluting plants who protested vociferously in July and August in defence of their children’s health. However, such a situation also explains why social unrest continues unabated despite the state apparatus tightening its screws.

Increasingly the authorities seemed unable to enforce law and order and have to resort to more drastic measures. for example, in some areas of Yunnan province, tourists have been barred after a drunken policeman was killed during brawl in a karaoke bar in Shangri-La County, a traditional tourist Mecca.

Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy reported that thousands of police and many armoured vehicles were sent in afterwards but the authorities still felt unable to provide security and thus chose instead to keep out tourists.

This will also be even more the case for 1 October celebrations when stronger measures than those adopted for the Beijing Olympics will be implemented.

During last year’s Games Beijing was divided into three security rings; this year it will have four rings, and layers of security forces will be extended to six provinces and municipalities around the capital.

In addition to points inside Beijing road blocks will be set up on every road leading into the capital from Hebei, Shandong, Shanxi, Liaonig, Inner Mongolia and Tianjin. Anyone planning to visit the city will need special identity papers.

Experts suggest that such controls appear more geared toward keeping potential protesters out of the city than preventing attacks or threats to public safety at a time when the world media will focus on what are expected to be grandiose celebrations.

This is also the case for Xinjiang where the authorities have imposed tight controls on the population to prevent any social disturbances.

For an unspecified “security reasons” the authorities have also demolished a shopping centre built by exiled Uyghur dissident, businesswoman Rebiya Kadeer, which can hold 500 stores.

Xinhua reported that other buildings in the area are also slated for demolition.

Send to a friend
Printable version
See also
Spies, army and tighter police controls for the 60th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China
Chinese military to show off might at PRC’s 60th anniversary
Cardinal Zen calls on China to release imprisoned bishops on its 60th anniversary
Well-known lawyer and activist Xu Zhiyong in prison for “tax evasion”
After 60 years in power, Communist regime still fears protesters


Subscribe to Asia News updates or change your preferences

Subscribe now
“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”