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Thousands protest in flood-hit Chinese city

Several held as protesters, angry at allegedly botched response to flooding, hurl bricks at police and attack vehicles.

Last Modified: 16 Oct 2013 10:15
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Residents in Yuyao smashed police vans and blocked a local TV vehicle [Reuters]

Arrests have been made after massive anti-government protests in an eastern Chinese city hit by catastrophic flooding, an official newspaper has said.

Thousands took part in the protest on Tuesday in the Zhejiang province city of Yuyao and an undisclosed number were arrested for "radical acts,'' including pelting police with bricks and turning over government vehicles, the official English-language Global Times reported on Wednesday.

It said residents were angered over an allegedly botched response to the flooding, the worst in decades, and the slow restoration of electricity and other basic services.

The flooding caused by a typhoon earlier this month killed at least six people in Zhejiang, left 11 million people deprived of water and power, and caused $2 billion in damages to homes, business, and infrastructure in Yuyao and nearby Ningbo and Shanghai, the government said.

Such protests, termed "mass incidents'' by the government, occur regularly around China, sparked by everything from traffic accidents to industrial pollution and official abuses of power.

Huge security spending

Public outrage is often exacerbated by perceptions of special treatment for the rich and powerful and by distant and unresponsive autocratic leaders appointed from above by the ruling Communist Party.

The threat of violence has prompted massive outlays for the police and other internal security measures, spending on which now exceeds the defence budget, the world's second largest after that of the United States.

Photos from Yuyao posted to various Chinese websites showed protesters smashing vehicles and attacking city offices. Some were bleeding from the head after apparently being clubbed by riot police who were shown massed in their hundreds in front of the city hall.

City officials on Wednesday either said they had no information or did not answer phones. The protest was ignored by local Chinese-language media and the Yuyao government's official website, which instead was filled with glowing reports on the city's flood response work.

Provincial official Cai Qi called on his microblog for a rational response to the flooding, and said officials had been working all-out to deal with the disaster.

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Source:
Associated Press
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