China to ‘strike hard’ against rising unrest

Chris Buckley – The Boston GLobe (via Reuters)

*Boston Globe*
26 January 2006
BEIJING (Reuters) – China is preparing to “strike
hard” against rising public unrest, a senior police
official said according to state media on Thursday,
highlighting the government’s fears for stability even
as the economy booms.
An unnamed top official of China’s Ministry of Public
Security told a Wednesday meeting that China faced a
long period of dangerous social discontent, Xinhua
news agency said.
“For a considerable time to come, our country will be
in a period of pronounced contradictions within the
people, high crime rates, and complex struggle against
enemies,” the official said.
“Contradictions within the people” is a Maoist term
used to describe domestic social unrest.
China was suffering many “major sudden incidents” — a
term Chinese officials use to cover riots, protests
and accidents — the official added.
“Unpredictable factors affecting social stability will
increase, and trends in protecting social stability
don’t allow for optimism,” said the official.
He also said that “terrorism is a real threat against
our country” and urged officers to guard against
attacks.
China says that its biggest terrorist threat comes
from Xinjiang, the far western region dominated by the
largely Muslim Uighur people who share a language and
culture similar to Central Asian countries.
Uighur groups have campaigned for independence from
China, and a few have had links with Islamic
extremists in Afghanistan and Central Asia.
Last week, China’s Ministry of Public Security put the
total number of “mass incidents” — riots,
demonstrations and smaller protests — at a total
87,000 last year, up 6.6 percent from 2004.
The latest unusually grim police diagnosis of China’s
social strains comes less than a week after Premier
Wen Jiabao was reported as warning that corrupt land
seizures in the countryside were stoking protests and
riots.
“Some locales are unlawfully occupying farmers’ land
and not offering reasonable economic compensation and
arrangements for livelihoods, and this is sparking
mass incidents in the countryside,” Wen said in a
speech published on January 20.
Wen said the continued “reckless occupation” of
farmland threatened “the stability of the countryside
and whole economy and society.” He promised stricter
land controls and improvements to farmers’ rights and
income.
HARSH RESPONSE
But the police official promised a harsher and more
traditional remedy.
Summoning harsh rhetoric that has languished in recent
years while the government promoted “rule of law,” the
official promised to “strike hard against all sorts of
terrorist activities and resolutely protect state
security and social stability.”
During the 1980s and 1990s, regular “strike hard”
campaigns were used to fight crime and threats to
order by mobilizing police and courts to catch and
quickly try and sentence many thousands of citizens.
In recent years, legal reformers have criticized such
campaigns as contrary to China’s official embrace of
rule of law and human rights.
But on Thursday, a meeting of law and order officials
announced a new campaign against the “sabotage
activities of cult organizations,” Xinhua said in a
separate report.
China calls the Falun Gong, a spiritual sect banned in
1999, a “cult” that threatens the government.
The meeting also called on officials to “strictly
prevent destructive activities by terrorist forces and
domestic and foreign hostile forces and elements,” the
report said.
Xinjiang authorities arrested more than 18,000 people
there for crime, including national security offences,
the region’s official newspaper said last week.


http://www.boston.com/news/world/asia/articles/2006/01/26/china_to_strike_hard_against_rising_unrest?mode=PF

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