Zhongshan township sealed off after riot
A township in Zhongshan city in Guangdong was sealed off by police yesterday as tensions remained high following a riot on Monday night that was believed to have been caused by disputes between locals and migrant workers.
About 30 people were said to have been injured and at least two public security vehicles vandalised in a clash with police in Zhongshan's Shaxi township, the Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said.
The exact cause of the riot was unclear, but a statement issued yesterday by the Zhongshan city government said security personnel at Longshan village, under the jurisdiction of Shaxi, restrained a 13-year-old boy from Chongqing by tying him up after he beat up a local primary school pupil in the town.
The statement also said the teenager suffered injuries to his face while being restrained. The government did not comment on the reason for the fight, but an online discussion board on tianya.cn/bbs, a popular web portal, said the teenager was extorting money from the primary school pupil, who was picking mangoes. The discussion board was later deleted.
Shaxi police told the South China Morning Post yesterday afternoon that the town remained locked down, as their men were still trying to control the situation.
'We are trying our best, but at this stage we really don't know when the roads will be reopened,' said one police officer who declined to be named.
Shaxi is a Pearl River Delta town known for its manufacture of casual wear.
Monday's riot drew renewed attention to unrest between locals and migrant workers from Sichuan . Last June, rioters torched government offices and burned cars for days in Zengcheng , Guangdong, known as the world's denim-manufacturing hub. The incident made international headlines and triggered soul-searching in the province about the need to address tensions involving migrant workers and locals.
The Zhongshan government statement said that about 30 emotional relatives of the Chongqing teenager had gathered outside the Longshan village offices on Monday evening, and that the number of people rose to about 300 by 10.30pm. The crowd began to clash with police, with some people throwing rocks and bricks.
The Hong Kong-based information centre said: 'Several thousand Sichuan people were engaged in a bloody clash with police.'
Some microblog posts said there were at least 1,000 people in the stand-off and that it featured hundreds of police.
Hundreds of riot police and armed provincial police were seen in online photos yesterday guarding every corner of the main streets. According to postings made by witnesses, at least two men had been arrested. Restaurants, banks and shops were all closed.
Shaxi and Zhongshan media also issued warnings to the public to stay away from the besieged township, and they warned local Shaxi residents to remain indoors.
Meanwhile, many bitter locals posted angry messages online, complaining that migrant workers from Sichuan were upsetting the local public order. Several people even expressed regret over making donations following the devastating 2008 Sichuan earthquake.