After years of brutally suppressing dissent, China has in recent months faced violent public unrest in a number of different cities and over a wide range of issues, from the government’s handling of the Sichuan earthquake to calls for Tibetan independence to a government crackdown on an Internet health forum.
With the world’s attention on the country for this summer’s Beijing Olympics, the anti-government violence tests the Communist Party’s leadership and ability in unprecedented ways.
Thousands rioted in southwest China last week, setting fire to police stations, cars and government buildings, after the death of a teenage girl.
According to news reports, authorities listed the death as a suicide, but the girl’s family accused police of raping and murdering her.
Citing Reuters, the BBC quoted an unnamed official in Guizhou province as saying, “About 10,000 people rushed to the site and totally burned down the county party office building, and burned other offices in the county government.”
Also last week, China re-opened Tibet to foreign visitors for the first time since protests shook Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, this spring.
Meanwhile, protests have continued over the government’s handling of the May 12 Sichuan.
BBC.com blogger Paul Mason listed four reports of ongoing clashes between the police and citizens, as bereaved family members try to hold memorial services at the sites of schools that collapsed in the quake.
Beijing faced protests on another front after the government shut down a popular online forum for carriers of Hepatitis B.
The Financial Times reported that some members of the site’s community were planning protests to coincide with the Olympics later this summer.
The newspaper quoted the Web site organizer, Lu Jun Lu, as saying: “A common refrain in the messages we have received from members since the Web site was shut down is: ‘I love my country but my country doesn’t love me.'”
“Tibetan Tourism Resumes After Chinese Ban”
ABC News, June 25, 2008
“Chinese riots over girl’s death”
BBC, June 29, 2008
“China’s quake unrest continues”
BBC.co.uk, June 27, 2008
“Group warns China on website shutdown”
Financial Times, June 25, 2008