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Riots on the Streets of Guangzhou

Thousands of migrants workers rioted in Zengcheng, a suburb of Guangzhou, after a clash between a pregnant couple and the local police. Rioters are reported to have laid siege to government buildings, setting fires and overturning cars. Despite government assurances to the contrary, China Digital Times reports that the riot has not been quelled.

Whether the riots continue or not is perhaps less interesting than the government's rhetorical handling of the event which sparked them. The China Daily (one of the many puppet news organizations of the Chinese Communist Party) reports only vaguely on the inspiration for this riot. It mentions that Wang Lianmei, one of the migrant workers involved in the initial clash with police was pregnant and that she “fell to the ground during the clash.” While they are very careful to quote the Mayor, Ye Niuping, that “Wang and her fetus remained intact in the clash after a thorough examination in hospital, and no death or injuries have been reported in this case” they do not explain how she fell.

China Daily also reports that the initial gathering of onlookers “gathered at the scene to prevent Wang from being sent to the hospital for examination,” a strange motive if everything seemed as serene on the scene as China Daily reports. What is it, exactly, that the migrant workers believed would happen if this woman was escorted from the scene, and what does it say about the local Chinese impression of their government?

The China Daily also expresses surprise and consternation over those who believed rumors “that Wang had been seriously injured while her husband had been killed by police” and Mayor Ye characterizes the riot as “an ordinary clash between street vendors and local public security… used by a handful of people who wanted to cause trouble.”

The problem is that any government that engages in systematic censorship of everything that might be critical or embarrassing to the ruling Party doesn't get the privilege of dismissing conspiracy theories as outlandish rumors. When the Party stops conspiring against its citizens, it can scoff at “unfounded rumors,” but as long as they maintain draconian control over the only sources of legitimate information, their people will be rightly mistrustful.

Christopher Michael Luna is a Contributing Writer for The Propagandist

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