Tighter police controls imposed as protests increase
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.