'Criminals' blamed for riot in Shanwei
Chow Chung-yan in Beijing
Guangdong Governor Huang Huahua yesterday blamed 'a small group of criminals' for a riot in Shanwei in which at least three villagers were shot dead by police.
It was the first time the governor had spoken about the three-month-old incident, which has been widely reported by the international media. Mr Huang also admitted that Guangdong was facing a problem with social unrest which was caused mainly by land requisition disputes and public anger at 'a few corrupt grass-roots cadres'.
He said the shooting in Shanwei had been 'caused by a small group of criminals who incited the innocent public'.
'They are the main culprits,' he said. 'The police commander also made mistakes and should share some of the responsibility.'
He said the provincial government had responded to community discontent and had solved most disputes peacefully.
'Our economic development has reached a new stage. There are many conflicting interests and voices. Social strife and a high crime rate are common phenomena at this stage of development, not just for us but also for other countries,' he said.
Guangdong has seen a number of high-profile social protests in the past year - including a crackdown on activists and villagers in Taishi, and police firing on villagers in Shanwei.
In his Government Work Report, delivered on Sunday, Premier Wen Jiabao also noted that unlawful land requisitions had caused public resentment.
Mr Huang said Guangdong party secretary Zhang Dejiang had repeatedly asked officials to comply with land requisition procedures and most requisitions had been carried out in accordance with the law.
He said reasonable compensation had been offered to peasants who lost their land, but added some local cadres might have misused the money and 'some demands are unreasonable'.