Pekings Angst vor Massenprotesten

Berichten über die Angst Pekings vor SmartMobs gibt der Economist (im neuen, aber nicht unbedingt übersichtlicheren Design) weitere Nahrung:
THE Chinese government is getting increasingly twitchy about what officials say is a rapid growth in the number and scale of public protests. In its latest bid to quash them, this week it announced a sweeping ban on internet material that incites “illegal demonstrations”. Does China face serious instability? Probably not, for now at least. But in the longer term there are reasons to worry. Quashing unrest has ever been a priority for the Communist Party. But over the past year or so it has put even more emphasis on tackling “mass incidents” as it calls the protests. These include a wide range of activity, from quiet sit-ins by a handful of people to all-in riots involving thousands. Almost always, they are sparked by local grievances, rather than antipathy to the party's rule. Yet China's most senior police official, Zhou Yongkang, has said that “actively preventing and properly handling” mass incidents was the main task for his Ministry of Public Security this year. ... According to Mr Zhou, there were some 74,000 protests last year, involving more than 3.7m people; up from 10,000 in 1994 and 58,000 in 2003. Sun Liping, a Chinese academic, has calculated that demonstrations involving more than 100 people occurred in 337 cities and 1,955 counties in the first 10 months of last year. This amounted to between 120 and 250 such protests daily in urban areas, and 90 to 160 in villages. These figures are likely to be conservative. Chinese officials often try to cover up disturbances in their areas to avoid trouble with their superiors. Under Mr Zhou's orders, police forces around the country this year have been merging existing anti-riot and counter-terrorist units into new “special police” tasked with responding rapidly to any mass protests that turn “highly confrontational”. Police officials say the existing units were too sluggish, too poorly trained and ill-coordinated to handle the upsurge in disturbances. The special police are to form small “assault squads” to tackle incidents involving violence or terrorism. Only a few years ago, news of specific incidents seldom filtered out to foreign journalists. Now, thanks partly to a freer flow of information helped by the internet, by mobile telephony and, more rarely, by a slightly less constrained domestic press, hardly a week goes by without some protest coming to light. In June, thousands of people rioted in the town of Chizhou, in the eastern province of Anhui, after an altercation between a wealthy businessman and a cyclist over a minor traffic accident. In August, hundreds clashed with police in a land-related dispute that still simmers in the village of Taishi, in the southern province of Guangdong. Last month, the police in Shanghai detained dozens of people protesting against being evicted from their homes.


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