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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 January 2006, 13:24 GMT
Public unrest increasing in China
Grieving family members on streets of Dongzhou near Shanwei, Guangdong - 12/12/2005
China has cracked down hard on some of the protests
China has announced another rise in public disturbances in 2005, as rapid economic growth continued to spark social unrest.

The Public Security Ministry said it handled 87,000 public disturbances last year, a rise of more than 6% on 2004.

The figures come amid growing anger at official corruption and several high-profile land disputes between authorities and villagers.

China's leaders see social unrest as the biggest threat to their rule.

6 Nov 2004: Paramilitary troops put down an uprising of 100,000 farmers in Sichuan province
10 April 2005: 20,000 peasants drive off more than 1,000 riot police in Huaxi, Zhejiang province
11 June 2005: Six farmers die in a fight with armed men in Shengyou, Hebei province
29 July 2005: Villagers in Taishi, Guangdong try to oust mayor
6 Dec 2005: Police shoot dead protesters in Dongzhou, Guangdong
14 Jan 2006: Police break up protest in Sanjiao, Guangdong, over land grabs

A ministry spokesman said the figure did not refer just to mass protests, but to all criminal cases linked to public disorder, including mob gatherings, obstruction of justice, fighting and trouble-making.

Disputed accounts

China's official statistics are unreliable.

But a BBC correspondent in Beijing, Louisa Lim, says the trend suggests growing social instability in China, as an ever-widening wealth gap leaves many excluded from the country's economic boom.

A key cause of some of the most high-profile unrest has been land seizures by corrupt local officials, who have sometimes failed to give adequate compensation to villagers.

In the most recent incident, villagers said police in the southern province of Guangdong beat locals protesting over a land grab.

Villagers said a teenage girl died in the protest, though officials denied this.

Guangdong also saw a violent protest over land requisitions in December, in Dongzhou village.

Paramilitary forces opened fire on demonstrators, killing three people according to official accounts, and as many as 30, according to villagers.

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