September 28, 2005

China links attacks on police to new-found rights

BEIJING (Reuters) - Twenty-three Chinese policemen were
killed in acts of violence in the first half of this year and
nearly 2,000 were injured, a Beijing newspaper reported on
Wednesday, adding that such attacks were on the rise.

A statement by the Public Security Ministry, quoted by the
Beijing Youth Daily, pinned the blame on a growing awareness of
people's rights and a resistance to heavy-handed authority.

Disputes between police and the people are becoming more
common in China, where public anger has been fuelled by land
disputes, corruption and a growing gap between rich and poor.

A ministry spokesman said the 23 deaths and 1,803 attacks
causing injuries had happened when police "encountered violent
obstacles" in carrying out their duty, the daily said.

"Recently, policemen getting attacked has become more
frequent around China, and the trend is on the rise," it quoted
the spokesman as saying.

"The rapid growth of people's awareness of their own rights
has caused them to resist management and led them to threaten
and mob police," he added.

In June, a roadside brawl in the poverty-stricken eastern
province of Anhui led to thousands rioting, attacking police
and burning cars.

In the western municipality of Chongqing last October,
thousands took to the street, burning police cars and looting
government buildings. The uproar was sparked by a man passing
himself off as an official during a quarrel between residents,
enraging bystanders with the attempted abuse of power.

"Inappropriate execution of the law" was also to blame for
the upward trend in violence against police in some cases, the
spokesman said, but added that nevertheless the police should
be shown respect from all walks of life.