Truth and Lies Behind China’s Xintang Protests

Riots in Xintang, a township of Zengcheng county in Guangdong province, started when word spread that city management (chengguan) had beaten a street vendor to death and roughed up his pregnant wife. But authorities held a press conference on Sunday (June 12), where they presented a man who they said was the one “rumored to have been killed.”

A summary from AFP:

The clashes in Xintang, a district in the greater Guangzhou area, began on June 10 after rumors spread that police had beaten a street hawker to death and manhandled his pregnant wife.

The man rumored to have been killed was presented at a news conference by authorities last Sunday, telling reporters that he, his wife and their unborn baby girl were “doing very well”.

Police said they had detained a person suspected of spreading rumours on the Internet that triggered the clashes.

The public security bureau in Guangzhou city announced on its official page on Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter, that the suspect surnamed Chen was detained Tuesday and had confessed to publishing false information online.

On Friday, June 17 the Zengcheng Daily published on a local government website, that “Armed police did not carry lethal weapons or fire a single shot” and that “There was no confrontation between police and the civilian population, nor between the local population and migrants.”

But according to AFP:

"There was no confrontation between police and the civilian population?" (Weibo.com)

“On June 15 the judicial authorities arrested 19 people suspected of obstructing the work of the police, provoking incidents and deliberately destroying property,” the Zengcheng Daily said Friday in an article published on a local government website.

The article stressed that nobody was killed in the clashes and said “armed police did not carry lethal weapons or fire a single shot”.

“There was no confrontation between police and the civilian population, nor between the local population and migrants,” the article said.

But television images of the unrest showed hundreds of officers and armored vehicles deployed, with people hurling bricks and bottles at local officials and police, and vandalizing ATMs and police posts.

Riot Police on the streets (blog.sina.com.cn)

Riot police and protesters (blog.sina.com.cn)

Riot police and protesters (blog.sina.com.cn)

Riots go on, 10:00 p.m. (Weibo.com)

Here are some comments from Chinese netizens:

Replies to a posting of news article claiming the “six no”

bqcd:
只是日常演习,请大家不要 恐慌,以后将会在全国各地进行,请大家多多配合!
“This is just a usual drill, nobody panic, this will be carried out around the country, please cooperate.”

Overturned police cars (Weibo.com)

qdv:
都军管了,怎么会没杀伤性 武器?
“It’s all under military control, how can there be no lethal weapons?”

Shenjingdao:
骗人太多,官 方报道实不敢信
“Too many lies, I don’t dare to believe in official reports.”

Replies to a question posted on Baidu asking whether the situation in Zhencheng has been resolved:

Daomogue:

没有!现在JC在 到处抓人,不分青红皂白抓到你就是罚款!没有300——500出不来! 今天我老乡下班路上莫名其 妙的被JC打了一棒!

“No, now police are arresting people, and fining

people at will, you can’t get out without 300 or 500 Yuan. One of my friends was hit by police for no reason after work.”

Overturned police cars (Weibo.com)

Concerned Netizen says:

你知道为什么中国人总是被 外国人看不起吗?从这件事的报道上看就知道,颠倒黑白,百姓就是悲哀啊
回答者: 热心网友 | 2011-6-16 22:03
“Do you know why westerners always look down on Chinese people? You can tell from reports on this incident. Black and white are turned around, it’s such a pity for people.”

And although Zhenzheng authorities are denying clashes happened between the protesters and the police, they have since issued a notice on ChinaReviewNews.com calling on people to turn others in for “resisting public security officers carrying out their duties and participating in attacks of state organizations.”

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