Officials admit existence of grievances before violent protest in SW China

2008-07-03 05:34:35 GMT       2008-07-03 13:34:35 (Beijing Time)       Xinhua English

GUIYANG, July 3 (Xinhua) -- Officials in southwest China's Guizhou Province have admitted there are social grievances in Weng'an County where a girl's death sparked a violent protest over the weekend.

At a panel discussion on the protest on Wednesday, officials from the provincial and local governments said local authorities in Weng'an County had failed to solve disputes over mines, demolition of illegal buildings, immigration, reform of state-owned enterprises and many other issues.

"Some legitimate interests (of the people) were not effectively protected, and some people bore grievances," said a Guizhou Daily report on Thursday.

The officials also blamed rampant crimes in the county, between600 and 800 cases annually. About half had not been solved. Theft, robbery and fighting were frequent occurrences.

Up to 30,000 people were involved in the protest, which was prompted by a controversial police report into the death of Li Shufen last month. Police concluded the 17-year-old drowned, but her family and relatives contend she was raped and killed.

The protest turned violent and rioters mobbed government office buildings. More than 150 police and protesters were injured, but no deaths were reported. About 160 offices and more than 40 vehicles were torched.

Police believe 134 people committed the destruction, and later took 59 into custody. Currently, 16 are in detention.

Earlier, provincial Communist Party chief Shi Zongyuan said the incident started from a simple reason, but was used and incited by a few people with ulterior motives. However, he added there must have been deep-rooted reasons behind the violent protest.

He criticized local officials, saying they had shortcomings that dissatisfied residents. "We must draw a lesson from the problems exposed."

Wang Fuyu, provincial deputy Party chief, and Vice Governor Huang Kangsheng joined the discussion on Wednesday.

Wang, who is also heading a work team in investigating the protest, urged Weng'an officials to listen to the people and solve the problems that were closely related to their interests.

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