Thousands clash with police in southern China
26 Dec 2004 0959 GMT

Source: Reuters

BEIJING, Dec 26 (Reuters) - Up to 50,000 workers upset over mistreatment by local security guards clashed with police in a town in China's Guangdong province, throwing rocks and bricks and torching four police cars, a Hong Kong newspaper said on Sunday.

The unrest was the latest in a string of riots and clashes in rural China, all sparked by seemingly minor issues, that have highlighted discontent over rampant corruption and abuse of power and a growing rich-poor gap.

A Dongguan county postal worker reached by telephone from Beijing said there had been a dispute between residents and police on Saturday. She declined to give details.

"It happens everywhere. This was only a minor matter," the worker said, adding that the incident was now over.

Police in Dongguan county and in Dalang township, where the newspaper said the clashes occurred, declined to comment.

Several others in the area reached by telephone, including local factory workers, said they had heard nothing of the clash.

Hong Kong's Wen Wei Po newspaper said on its Web site,, that the clash happened after a student from Hunan province fell off a motorcycle taxi two days earlier and a relative of his went to talk with the driver about compensation.

The driver accused the student's relative of being a thief and he was subsequently detained and beaten to death by local security officials in Qiufu village, in Dalang township, it said.

Outraged, some 70-80 other relatives from Hunan and workers from the inland province converged on the village seeking redress and clashed with security guards, it said. The crowd grew and police were called in to quell the unrest.

The rioters torched four police cars and threw rocks and bricks at the police, it said.

Apple Daily, another Hong Kong newspaper, also reported the incident and said special police had fired into the crowd.

Tens of millions from inland China head to the booming coastal provinces, including Guangdong, to work in factories.