Saturday, December 09, 2006

China admits social unrest threatens party's iron grip

With a population the size of China's, this little problem could get interesting fast:

Riots in China are threatening the Communist Party’s ability to rule, according to a policy document that seeks answers to the country’s social unrest.
It is the first time that a partywide paper has asked how best to deal with rising public discontent and underscores the seriousness of the problem.

Demonstrations have been on the rise for several years as those who have lost out because of market reforms have taken to the streets to voice their discontent. Last year official figures showed that the number of protests, or “mass incidents”, averaged one every six minutes. In 2004, officials reported 74,000 mass incidents in China, up from 10,000 in 1994, with the number of participants rising to 3.8 million from 730,000.

A decision by the party to find ways to actively prevent such mass incidents — made at its annual plenary session in October — marked the first time a document sent out to party members had referred to how to deal with the problem, the official Xinhua news agency said yesterday.

In a rare commentary on the sensitive topic, the state-run Xinhua news agency said: “The huge number and broad scope of mass incidents has become the most outstanding problem that seriously impacts social stability.”
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