Chinese riot over one-child 'fines'

Reports say thousands clash with police after heavy fines imposed on families.

    China's controversial family planning laws have been in place since the 1970s [GALLO/GETTY]
    One person was injured as villagers and government officials hurled stones at each other, the newspaper said.
    The clashes reportedly broke out after the local government levied fines of more than $1,300 on families that had too many children under what has become known as China's one-child policy.
    Some witnesses put the number involved in the rioting at around 10,000, although other reports have said there were many more people.
    Photos on Chinese blogs showed buildings on fire and cars overturned.

    Reports say between 10,000 and
    50,000 people took part in the riots

    The protests began after local governments dispatched "family planning work teams" to levy fines on families that were violating government population control policies, local residents told the AFP news agency.
    One woman in Shapi township said on condition of anonymity that up to 20,000 people had gathered and rioted there on Saturday, hurling rocks, breaking windows and torching public property.
    "The farmers were really angry because the family planning team was going around to homes and making farmers pay fines if they had too many kids," the woman was quoted as saying.
    "If the farmers had no money they took things from them. Property with value they confiscated, things with no value they destroyed."
    Other accounts posted on online Chinese forums said officials had confiscated everything from livestock to electronic goods and even household items such as pots, pans and teapots.
    China’s one-child policy is meant to keep the population – the world's biggest at 1.3 billion - to a size the government believes is sustainable.
    But the policy, in place sine the 1970s, has been controversial, with frequent reports of abuse including forced late-term abortions and forced sterilisations, as well as arbitrary fines.
    Al Jazeera's reporter in Beijing, Melissa Chan, said there have also been other unintended problems such as the demographic abnormality of 119 males to every 100 females.
    In some provinces and regions, such as Guangxi, there are concessions to the policy with families allowed a second child if the first one is a girl although no one is allowed more than two children.
    The weekend's protests are the latest in a growing number of violent incidents across China as ordinary Chinese vent anger over official corruption, a growing rich-poor gap and land confiscations.
    According to the official figures there were 87,000 protests, officially termed "mass incidents", reported in 2005, up 6.6 per cent from 2004 and 50 per cent from 2003.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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