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Page last updated at 12:15 GMT, Friday, 5 December 2008

China 'faces mass social unrest'

About 500 protesters rioted at a toy factory in southern China on 25 November 2008
Chinese authorities have already had to deal with workers' protests
Rising unemployment and the economic slowdown could cause massive social turmoil in China, a leading scholar in the Communist Party has said.

"The redistribution of wealth through theft and robbery could dramatically increase and menaces to social stability will grow," Zhou Tianyong, a researcher at the Central Party School in Beijing, wrote in the China Economic Times.

"This is extremely likely to create a reactive situation of mass-scale social turmoil," he wrote.

His views do not reflect leadership policy but highlight worries in elite circles about the impact of the economic slowdown.

Mr Zhou warned that the real rate of urban joblessness reached 12% this year and could reach 14% next year as the economy slows.

China's annual GDP growth has already slowed to 9% in the third quarter, from 10.1% in the second. Some forecasters see growth slowing to 7.5% next year.

The government has launched a stimulus package and cut interest rates to boost the economy.

Unrest warning

Last month, China's top planner warned that the economic slowdown in China could fuel social unrest.

Zhang Ping, head of the National Development and Reform Commission, said the impact of the global crisis on China's economy was deepening.

"Excessive bankruptcies and production cuts will lead to massive unemployment and stir social unrest," he said.



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