Three Gorges Probe

A burst of gunfire exploding in darkness

(May 1, 2002) One observer says the growing protests in China are a result of rising economic inequality and a lack of political rights. ‘Because of the lack of protection of their rights, farmers are more willing to resort to desperate means,’ she says.


Beijing: Darkness had fallen on the fishing town of Dongzhou when the riot police marched into town. There were hundreds of them, carrying shields and wearing helmets and body armour.

It was the night of Dec. 6, a little more than a week ago. Just a few hours earlier, police had clashed with hundreds of villagers fighting the seizure of their land for a power plant. Now the paramilitary troops were back in full force–and with assault rifles.

The police had been ordered to arrest the protest leaders in this town of 10,000 people in southern China. A throng of villagers gathered to confront them.

At first, it seemed to be nothing out of the ordinary, just another of the rising number of street protests that erupt in China every year.

But what happened in the next few minutes was a shocking sign of the mounting violence of those clashes, a violence that China’s leaders and some students of the regime believe could one day threaten the stability of the Chinese government.

The ruthless suppression of the villagers of Dongzhou was a troubling reminder that China has not yet abandoned the brutal tactics that led to the slaughter of hundreds of students at Tiananmen Square in 1989.

The Globe and Mail, May 1, 2002

Categories: Three Gorges Probe

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