China Protest Village Again Erupts in Conflict

November 17, 2006 Updated: November 17, 2006

BEIJING—A Chinese village where police shot protesting residents last year has again erupted in conflict after protesters took eight officials hostage, residents and a news report said on Friday.

Angry residents of Dongzhou in the southern province of Guangdong had held the officials near the village for nearly a week, demanding the release of a detained local activist, Radio Free Asia reported.

The villagers were protesting at the detention on Nov. 9 of Chen Jian, a resident who had hung anti-corruption slogans outside his house, it said.

Three residents contacted by Reuters also said there had been a standoff with officials and that police and anti-riot troops had gathered on the edge of the village.

“The villagers grabbed eight government officials and have kept them locked in the temple for seven days,” said one shopkeeper in Dongzhou. “The villagers have locked the gate.”

An ornate traditional temple, paid for by locals, stands at the entry to Dongzhou.

The details remain murky. Many other villagers refused to talk over the phone about events there, or said they were minding their own business and did not know of any confrontation.

Dongzhou police and officials in Shanwei, the nearby city in charge of the area, did not answer phone calls or refused to comment.

Dongzhou gained notoriety in December last year after police and troops fired on locals in a violent standoff over the construction of a coal-fired power station.

Some reports at the time said dozens of protesters and bystandards may have died, but the regime said only three were killed—a number confirmed by residents, including kin of the dead.

Dongzhou again appears to be witnessing one of the thousands of protests and confrontations that the Chinese regime says happen every year.

The number of protests and riots throughout the country fell by over a fifth in the first nine months of 2006, a senior police official said earlier this month. Police dealt with 17,900 “mass incidents” from January to September—a fall of 22.1 percent on the same period last year.

Many residents of Dongzhou were afraid there would be a repeat of last year's bloody conflict, said one villager, surnamed Gu.

“There are many police and People's Armed Police on the edge of the village now,” he said. “We don't want to see bloodshed again.”

He said there were 30 or so police vans and trucks on the outskirts of Dongzhou, but he did not know how many troops they may have carried in.

Another villager estimated there were dozens.

Edited by The Epoch Times