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Riots in China industrial hub

world Updated: Jun 28, 2012 01:22 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times
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Large-scale rioting was reported from the manufacturing hub of Guangdong province in south China this week following a clash between locals and migrant workers.

The unrest, according to reports, followed after a fight broke out between a migrant worker and a local resident in a town called Shaxi in Guangdong province on Monday night.

The clashes subsequently spread as more men both local and outsiders gathered. More unrest was sparked after police allegedly beat up the migrant worker.

"The riots started yesterday (Monday) noon, but escalated late last night, several thousands of people were protesting," Liu Tianjin, a Shaxi factory worker told AFP.

"There were lots of riot police outside last night, and there are still many outside now. I can tell you more than 30 people were injured."

About 30 people were injured and the rioters – mostly from Sichuan province in the southwest – smashed and overturned at least two public security vehicles, the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy said.

Guangdong, located close to Hong Kong is known as the "world's factory floor." Tens of millions of migrant workers are employed across the province, providing a pool of cheap labour that has driven China's export-oriented economy.

According to Reuters, the number of “mass incidents”, as such outbreaks of unrest are known, recorded by the government grew from 8,700 in 1993 to about 90,000 in 2010, according to several government-backed studies.

Last year, residents of South China’s Wukan village staged waves of public protest against corruption, leading to the expulsion of two village officials from the Communist Party of China (CPC) on graft charges.

A number of big rallies were staged and residents forced out police and CPC members from the village; the incidents grabbed international headlines. The protests were against land grabs allegedly carried out by local party officials including a former head of the village. Wukan was sealed off for days after security personnel surrounded it. Temporary internet restrictions were also put in place for restricting information on Wukan.