Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Could Unrest in China Lead to War?

A few days ago I stated that I did not think that China would attack Taiwan to quell domestic unrest and focus national attention on something other than the failings of the state. I still believe that, but the following report is somewhat disconcerting.

Thousands riot in China, attack police, burn cars

Thousands of Chinese rioted in a dispute sparked by a lopsided roadside brawl, set fire to cars and wounded six police officers in an outburst likely to worry communist leaders in Beijing desperate to cling on to power.

The violence was the latest in a series of protests which the Communist Party, in power since 1949, fears could spin out of control and become a channel for anger over corruption and a growing gap between rich and poor.

It started before 3 p.m. when a Toyota sedan grazed a middle school student crossing the street and the teen and the driver quarreled. A few men emerged from the car and set on the student, a local store manager surnamed Wu who saw the clash told Reuters by telephone.

The men were taken to a police station and a crowd that had been watching the fight swarmed around the building, Wu said, demanding that the men be handed over to them as their numbers swelled by the minute.

The crowd, now numbering as many as 10,000, also flipped three parked police cars and set them ablaze.

Sounds eerily similar to a University of Maryland basketball game.

Protests have become increasingly common in China, fueled by corruption and the widening wealth gap, but authorities are keen to quickly quash dissent and preserve stability.

There were more than 58,000 protests, many of them over land rights disputes, across the country in 2003, a Communist Party-backed magazine, Outlook, has reported.

Since a Communist Party backed magazine published this, I suspect the number is higher. I was not aware that the internal unrest facing China was this bad. It certainly does add another element into the China situation that does not bode well for peace in Asia.

In Sports: