Anti-gov't riot erupts in eastern China over tax hike

Anti-gov't riot erupts in eastern China over tax hike
401 words
27 October 2011
Kyodo News
(c) 2011 Kyodo News

HONG KONG, Oct. 27 -- A tax hike against individual vendors that make children's wear in eastern China's Zhejiang Province has led to a riot in which more than 100 vehicles were wrecked and more than 100 people injured, a human rights watchdog said Thursday.

The Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy said authorities in Zhili town raised the tax against individual vendors from 300 yuan (about $47) last year to 600 yuan this year and a vendor who refused to pay up was roughed up by tax collectors Wednesday, which then led to a protest by hundreds of vendors.

A vehicle later ran through the protesting crowd, injuring 10 people and prompted thousands of vendors and migrant workers to gather for a riot that lasted into the night, leaving about 40 cars damaged including some police vehicles, the Hong Kong-based center said.

The riot continued Thursday and more than 100 cars were wrecked, including at least one police bus that was set afire and about 10 police cars, while more than 100 people were injured, the center said.

A report by state-run Xinhua News Agency said about 600 people gathered as the vendor refused to pay taxes and assaulted the tax collectors, and a vehicle passing by came under attack and knocked down 10 people as it fled the scene.

All 10 were hospitalized, two of them in serious condition, and the driver of the vehicle was detained, the report said.

But the chaos continued into night as more than 100 people protested at the town hall, threw rocks at traffic lights and advertisement boards, damaged more than 30 cars parked on roads and numerous garbage bins, injuring a few police and urban management personnel.

The propaganda office of the Huzhou City government, which governs Zhili, said in the report that the situation had been brought under control after police took away some rioters, but it did not mention the relapse Thursday.

A video clip posted on YouTube show a police bus being torched while people videotaped it.

Photographs posted on social networking websites show a burnt police bus, other overturned cars on roads, and trucks presumably carrying police officers entering Zhili on Thursday, as hundreds of antiriot police seen stood guard on streets, apparently to tighten control in the town.