Protest breaks out over officials' conduct

Updated: 2011-08-13 07:44

By Qiu Bo and Chen Jia (China Daily)

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QIANXI, Guizhou - Thousands of residents gathered in the streets of a southwestern county on Thursday to protest the actions of urban administration officials who had come into conflict earlier in the day with a man they had accused of illegally parking a car.

Some in the group became unruly at times and smashed police vehicles, the local police confirmed on Friday.

The protest, in Qianxi county of Southwest China's Guizhou province, was the latest sign that tension exists between local residents and urban administration officials, who are responsible for maintaining order and cleanliness in cities.

In a statement released on Friday, the Guizhou provincial public security department's command center said the crowds have been dispersed.

The protest began on Thursday after a member of the county's urban administration staff came into conflict with a driver who was alleged to have illegally parked a vehicle outside a local bank, according to the command center.

"At the beginning, about three to five urban administration members had a quarrel with a woman when her husband was in our bank," said a security guard who declined to give his full name.

"Seeing the quarrel, the husband walked out of the bank and the couple was surrounded by more than 10 urban administration officials and treated rudely, which made the people who saw that happen angry."

Word of the incident spread quickly and a crowd began to gather in the front of the Qianxi county government building at about 5 pm that day.

Some of the protestors turned over a vehicle driven by the urban management staff member who had been in the conflict and attacked police officers who had come to pacify them.

Li Wenxian, a 28-year-old plumber, said thousands of residents and hundreds of police were on the streets after 1:30 am on Friday.

According to a report from Xinhua News Agency, 10 vehicles were smashed in the protest and another five were set on fire. More than 10 police officers and security workers were also injured.

By 3 am on Friday, the crowds had been dispersed. Police took away more than 10 people who were suspected of smashing and burning vehicles, according to the report.

"Nobody has been arrested by the police," Tang Guang-xing, media office director for Bijie, the prefecture that administrates Qianxi county.

Zeng Fanya, an official with the media office, said, "All of the urban administration workers have been hired through open and legal procedures, although they may not be well-educated."

Zeng said the government will order urban administration staff members to exercise more restraint when they carry out their work in the future.

At 1 pm on Friday, a crowd consisting of about 200 people stood outside of the public security bureau on Shuixi Street in Qianxi.

"We are angry and fed up with these urban administration workers," Li Wenli, a 30-year-old local citizen, said on Friday.

"I was fined 500 yuan ($78) twice for parking my motorcycle in wrong places. At other times, the fine was 300 yuan. It always depends on their mood."

Clashes with the police and urban management workers appear to have become more common in the country.

In 2010, the greater frequency of such clashes led to many heated discussions on the Internet. Some extreme conflicts have even led to deaths. Urban management workers and street pedlars have been killed in various fights between those two groups.