Thursday, July 28, 2011

Chinese riot after killing of fruit vendor -- Is China falling apart?

Hundreds of rioters in a southern Chinese city battled with police into the early hours of Wednesday morning after a disabled fruit vendor died while being beaten by Chinese officials on the street in broad daylight.

The man, identified by the government as 52-year-old Deng Qiguo, died on Tuesday afternoon after a “dispute with city management staff” in the city of Anshun, in southern China’s Guizhou province, according to state media reports.

Local residents and numerous internet accounts from self-professed eyewitnesses said the one-legged man was beaten to death on the street outside a fruit and vegetable market by a group of China’s notorious chengguan or “city management” officials.

This quasi-police force mostly enforces laws against beggars, street vendors and other petty offenders and has a reputation for brutality and corruption.

Such cases are relatively common and a huge riot last month in China’s industrial heartland of Guangdong was apparently sparked by a similar incident in which city management officials beat up a 20-year-old pregnant migrant worker.

On Wednesday, dozens of graphic video clips and photographs of Mr Deng’s dead body were circulating on the internet but the gathering of angry residents that began after his death and lasted until the early hours of Wednesday morning seemed to have been quelled.

“Anyone who goes near [the scene of the earlier protest] will get beaten, they beat many people, more than 100,” said one Anshun resident who asked not to be named because of the fear of official retribution. “There are still a lot of police around here.” (more)