BEIJING, July 8 (Xinhua) -- The recent violent
protests in China's southwest Guizhou Province showed local government shouldn't
suppress people's grievances, but should instead find ways to take care of their
The incident, which was triggered by the death of
middle schoolgirl Li Shufen and further intensified by the local government
officials' malfeasance, was not unique to Weng'an County, according to a
commentary in the Beijing-based China Youth Daily on Tuesday.
Conflicts between local governments and people exist
in quite a number of counties, especially those with rich mineral resources, it
The potential of huge profits in mining sometimes led
to the collusion of corrupt local government officials and illegal local power
and organizations, such as illegal miners and gangsters. Under such
circumstances, people could not find a channel to seek justice when their legal
rights were violated.
In the case of Weng'an, which is known as one of the
three major areas in Guizhou rich in phosphor mines, the conflicts concerning
the development of phosphor and coal mines are quite intense.
In addition, other deep-seated reasons for the
protests lies in immigration, resident relocation for construction projects and
other issues. These had not been given due attention for some time.
The government of Weng'an also did a poor job in
keeping social order and sustaining public security, the commentary said.
According to the provincial government's releases, in
2004, Weng'an police was only able to crack half of the reported criminal cases,
40 percent of thefts and 55 percent of robberies.
Police in Qiannan prefecture, which administers
Weng'an County, announced a four-month crackdown on gangs accused of inciting
violence during the protests. It also targeted criminal elements in the county
and its neighboring areas.
"I finally found it safe to go out of my home in the
evening," said an elderly man after the announcement.
Up to 30,000 people were involved in the protest
flamed by a police report on the death of student Li last month. Police said the
17-year-old drowned, but her family and relatives contend she was raped and
killed. The case was still being investigated.
Provincial Party chief Shi Zongyuan said: "We should
not neglect the interest of people nor those deeds which harm the credibility of
the local governments."
"Those government officials who have harbored illegal
power and criminal gangs, should be severely punished," Shi said, adding violent
methods should not be used to suppress public grievance.
The commentary added the Weng'an incident should
become a lesson on how important it was to channel people's grievances. "We
should not suppress it, nor try to cover it up from local people and the
governments at higher levels. Instead, we should find feasible ways to provide
outlets for people's grievance and take care of their interests."
It is also important to shift the local governments'
role from focusing on economic development to public services, according to
another commentary by the China Youth Daily on Tuesday.
People's interest and benefits should not be
sacrificed to give priority to economic development, it said.