Thousands riot in south China over land grab: report

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 22, 2011 8:38 PM

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Thousands of people have attacked government buildings in southern China in protest at land sales, a newspaper reported on Friday, the latest outbreak of trouble in the economic powerhouse of Guangdong.

Witnesses in Lufeng city said the protests, in which around a dozen residents were hurt, were triggered by the seizure of hectares of land and their sale to property developer Country Garden for 1 billion yuan ($156.6 million), Hong Kong's South China Morning Post reported.

Directing their ire at the local seat of government and attacking buildings including the local Communist Party headquarters and a police station, the angry mob in some cases used "sticks, bricks and their fists," the Post reported.

Roads were also blocked, and a businessman said several thousand villagers had joined demonstrations outside government headquarters since Wednesday.

Earlier this year, in the Guangdong factory town of Zengcheng, thousands of migrant workers went on the rampage over the alleged maltreatment of a female worker, torching government offices, smashing police cars and marching in the thousands through the streets.

The social unrest in one of China's most economically important provinces, encompassing the famed Pearl River Delta "world factory" zone that accounts for around a third of China's exports, has been a challenge for Guangdong Communist Party chief Wang Yang.

Wang, who is widely expected to be promoted to China's highest leadership ranks in a once-in-a-decade leadership transition next year, has called for a more balanced "Happy Guangdong" development model emphasizing social harmony.

The Lufeng government confirmed the unrest in a statement issued on Thursday night that "put the number of rioters in the hundreds, and said more than a dozen police were injured and six police cars were overturned on the second day of unrest," the Post reported.

The dispute was triggered on Wednesday morning when villagers demanded the return of their land, the report said.

(Reporting by James Pomfret; Editing by Daniel Magnowski)