Hundreds of people rioted in southwest China after security forces reportedly beat a disabled street vendor to death, government authorities and state media said.
The crowd gathered in Guizhou province’s Anshun city yesterday afternoon after the hawker died, the local government said, in an incident that bore a close similarity with riots last month in China’s southern industrial heartland.
A police spokesman said the one-legged man had argued with the “chengguan”, the official Xinhua news agency said Wednesday, referring to a municipal security force charged with regulating street hawking and similar activities.
Comments posted by netizens said the “chengguan” — two men and one woman — beat the disabled vendor to death. The Xinhua report said an investigation was under way to find out how he died.
Hong Kong-based Cable TV broadcast images of the unrest, showing overturned cars, people throwing stones at shield-wielding police, and injured, bleeding protesters.
It said police used water cannons to disperse the crowd, and that shooting sounds were heard, believed to be the firing of tear gas.
The “chengguan” are widely disliked in China, where they have a reputation for using brute force against civilians — in particular illegal street vendors.
Rumors that “chengguan” had beaten a street hawker to death and manhandled his pregnant wife in the southern province of Guangdong sparked violent rioting last month.
Television images at the time showed hundreds of police officers and armoured vehicles deployed on the streets, with people hurling bricks at local officials, vandalising ATMs and police posts.
These incidents are the latest in a recent bout of unrest in China sparked by perceived social injustices.