growing social unrest in china

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    Saturday, December 18, 2004

    Handle angry outbursts with care, judge urges


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    Law-enforcement bodies should deal carefully with large-scale outbursts of anger and dissatisfaction among people in order to prevent even larger protests, a judge has warned.

    Cao Jianming , a vice-president of the Supreme People's Court, told a national conference of provincial judges that explosions, riots, demonstrations and strikes were becoming dramatically more common, and that failing to properly handle such cases would result in social instability.

    He called for the implementation of what is known as the "four internal mechanisms", as guidelines to dealing with such cases. The mechanisms are: issuing warnings, conducting investigations, reacting to emergencies and accountability.

    Mr Cao also called for a tougher crackdown on the increasing amount of organised and violent crimes.

    "People's courts at all levels and localities should implement `strike hard' policies, dealing in a swift and merciless way with violent criminal cases of murder, explosions, [using] poison and other dangerous materials, and organised crimes," he said.

    Though official figures on the number of unexpected explosions, riots, demonstrations and strikes on the mainland are not kept, a recent US report has suggested there were more than 58,000 mass protests last year.

    The central leadership has apparently realised that its authority is being threatened by worsening law and order and an increasing number of mass protests.

    The spate of incidents has also caused an internal debate among top officials and think-tank scholars over the scale of the unrest. Some have even questioned whether the country could reach a tipping point in which public anger with the government might one day turn into a nationwide protest movement like that of 1989.

    The government usually treads delicately in its monitoring of protests, allowing them to end peacefully.

    It also takes measures to address the complainants' issues.

    Meanwhile, the mainland's top official in charge of law and order has urged law-enforcement bodies to step up their efforts to maintain social order.

    Minister for Public Security Zhou Yongkang , a member of the Politburo, told a police conference that increasing violent crime and worsening social stability presented grave challenges to law-enforcement officers.

    Mr Cao called for attention to be paid to the rise in violent crimes committed against students.

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