A young but influential Shanghai scholar claims the social unrest caused by economic reforms will pose more problems for China than the democracy movement of 1989 ever did. Yang Lujun said that compared to nine years ago, simmering social tensions were potentially more explosive. 'There are a lot of resentments and grievances among the people,' said the economist, who sometimes advised the leadership on reform matters. Mr Yang, 37, was the author of a book on Reaganomics in the late 1980s. He said there had been much unrest with many demonstrations and disturbances in several provinces due to massive layoffs in the state sector and government measures related to unemployment, such as the heavy levies on motorcycles and the ban on direct selling, affecting many laid-off workers who drove pedicabs and became salesmen. Only the unity of the top leadership had kept the situation from exploding, Mr Yang said. In 1989, he said, it was the in-fighting among the leadership mixed with accumulated social tension after 10 years of reform that led to the bloodshed at Tiananmen. But the social situation before the tragedy was not as turbulent as it was today, he said. The workers did not take any action then, leaving mainly students to lead the rallies in Beijing. To the workers, the call for democracy and freedom were abstract concepts. This time around, Mr Yang said, if the people could not tolerate the consequences of the reforms, the resulting confrontation between the people and the Government could be more disastrous. Tensions had been heightened by the natural consequences of government reforms which were gradually shifting responsibilities to the private sector to cut the welfare burden, he said. The only way to ease the tension, he said, lay with political reforms. He said if people were forced to take responsibility for themselves in housing and welfare they would naturally want to have more of a say in the nation's affairs.