1000s protest in flood-hit China city

2013-10-16 09:48
(STR, AFP)

(STR, AFP)

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Beijing - Arrests have been made following massive anti-government protests in an eastern Chinese city hit by catastrophic flooding, an official newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Thousands took part in the Tuesday protest in the Zhejiang province city of Yuyao and an undisclosed number were arrested for "radical acts," including pelting police with bricks and flipping over government vehicles, the Global Times reported.

It said residents were angered over an allegedly botched response to the flooding, the worst in decades, and the slow restoration of electricity and other basic services.

The flooding caused by a typhoon earlier this month killed at least six people in Zhejiang, left 11 million people deprived of water and power, and caused $2bn in damages to homes, business, and infrastructure in Yuyao and nearby Ningbo and Shanghai, the government said.

Such protests, termed "mass incidents" by the government, occur regularly around China, sparked by incidents ranging from traffic accidents to industrial pollution and official abuses of power.

Public outrage is often exacerbated by perceptions of special treatment for the rich and powerful and by distant and unresponsive autocratic leaders appointed from above by the ruling Communist Party.

The threat of violence has prompted massive outlays for the police and other internal security measures, spending on which now exceeds the defence budget, the world's second largest after that of the US.

Photos from Yuyao posted to various Chinese websites showed protesters smashing vehicles and attacking city offices. Some were bleeding from the head after apparently being clubbed by riot police who were shown massed in their hundreds in front of city hall.

City officials on Wednesday either said they had no information or did not answer phones. The protest was ignored by local Chinese-language media and the Yuyao government's official website, which instead was filled with glowing reports on the city's flood response work.

However, the head of the Zhejiang provincial Communist Party Organisation Department, Cai Qi, called on his microblog for a rational response to the flooding, and said officials had been working all-out to deal with the disaster.

"Who says the leaders have been useless?" Cai wrote. "The leaders and cadres have been working their hardest to deal with this unprecedented disaster and provocations resulting in radical talk aren't in anyone's interests."

Read more on:    china  |  floods

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