One-child policy sparks more rioting in Guangxi

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 May, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 May, 2007, 12:00am
 

Anger over birth-control fines spreads across region


More riots have broken out in the Guangxi over local authorities' rigid enforcement of the one-child policy, residents of the south-western region said yesterday.


Hundreds of residents of Rongxian county, in the east of the region, stormed and smashed several government offices on Tuesday. The protesters clashed with armed police and set at least two police vehicles on fire, an eyewitness said. Several police officers were beaten by angry protesters. It was not clear last night if there were any fatalities.


The riots mainly took place in two rural towns in Rongxian - Yangmei and Lingshan - although small-scale unrest was also reported in eight other towns. Order had been restored yesterday morning after the government called in hundreds of armed police.


'It was total mayhem. People surrounded the birth-control office and pelted it with stones. They broke into the building, smashed furniture and started looting,' said Mr Yang, a resident of Yangmei.


'Dozens of police arrived and the two sides clashed. I saw several police officers getting beaten by the crowd. At least two police cars were burnt. I was scared and I immediately ran back home.'


Mr Yang said things had calmed down yesterday but he was still afraid of going out.


A police officer in Yangmei confirmed the riot yesterday but refused to disclose more details. Xinhua also reported the incident later and said the government office in Lingshan had also been attacked by the protesters. Some doors and windows were smashed. Xinhua said the riots started at noon on Tuesday.


Hundreds of local residents gathered outside the government office and demanded refunds of fines paid for violating the birth-control policy. The residents believed they had been arbitrarily fined and paid more than was legally required.


Citing local police, Xinhua said the riots were instigated by a few unidentified people. It said they had used forged government documents to goad the residents. But the report did not say if anyone had been arrested.


A Yangmei resident denied the Xinhua report and said they were inspired by similar riots in nearby Bobai county two weeks ago.


'It's a self-organised protest. Nobody is telling us what to do. We have put up with their abuse for too long. Now we want to express our anger,' he said.


'People in Bobai did it, why can't we?'


The man said the authorities in Rongxian had launched a crackdown on violation of the one-child policy since February, with many families fined by birth-control officers.


He said fines collected from 10 towns in Rongxian over the past four months were close to 10 million yuan. But he could not explain how he arrived at that figure.


Similar riots took place in nearby Bobai county two weeks ago, when thousands of people stormed a local office, smashing furniture and destroying vehicles.


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