Dozens injured in protests over Chinese railway project

AP News
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Posted: May 18, 2015 7:12 AM

BEIJING (AP) — More than 30 police officers and 38 civilians were injured in southwestern China during a weekend protest by residents who feared that a planned railway would bypass their community, authorities said Monday.

The protest was the latest in which Chinese citizens have taken to the streets in an attempt to influence government decision-making after feeling excluded from the process.

The county government of Linshui said in a statement that more than 100 protesters charged police and burned vehicles on Saturday, and that 40 people were detained. It said 20 more were detained Sunday when crowds gathered again. It wasn't immediately clear if the 60 remained detained or were held briefly and released.

Local police and government officials did not answer calls or declined to talk to The Associated Press on Monday.

The demonstrators demanded that the proposed railway linking Chongqing and Dazhou go through their city, saying the nearly 1 million residents of Linshui urgently need their first rail link. They marched over the weekend after hearing reports that it could take another route through the bigger city of Guang'an, which already has railway service.

Photos and videos posted on social media showed demonstrators filling the streets and holding banners saying the rail link would help the local economy.

The provincial railway construction office said Monday the route is yet to be finalized and that it would take into account the residents' wishes.

The state-run Global Times newspaper said in an editorial Monday that local governments should use an open and fair process in selecting the route.

"Police force can be of some use but it cannot win people's hearts and minds," it said. "The solution should lie in how local governments make decisions."

The editorial warned against making unprincipled concessions under public pressure, and said a well thought-out decision would be the government's best defense.