a growing trend of assaults against police, officials and government property in China. The Public Security Ministry estimates that more than 1,800 policemen were attacked in the line of duty in the first six months of this year, sharply up from previous years. A ministry spokesman, Wu Heping, was quoted by the official party organ, the People's Daily, as saying that 23 policemen were killed in a broad range of clashes with "criminal suspects or people intending to interfere with law enforcement through violence."In this case, the government first tries to intimidate the protesters, then buy them off.
Much of the damage to cars or buildings, and injuries to police and other officials, occurred during riots and other violent disturbances that have broken out in towns and villages across China with increasing frequency. The ministry estimates that 74,000 such incidents erupted in 2004, involving 3.76 million people.
The unrest has become a major concern for the government of President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao. Most of the uprisings have exploded in reaction to economic complaints, such as land confiscations or pollution, as China evolves swiftly but unevenly under the impetus of market reforms. But the disturbances -- and the willingness to clash with police or civilian officials -- also have revealed a growing sense of disillusionment with local Communist Party administrations, suggesting a politically significant break in trust between those who govern China's towns and villages and those they govern.
The afternoon after their rampage at Yantang city hall, Shangdeng's peasants were confronted with a sight they said they had never seen. Several trucks bounced in along the dirt road, they said, carrying two dozen policemen and local officials wearing camouflage uniforms and carrying shields and riot batons.
The officials said their mission was to guarantee stability and investigate who had ransacked the town hall, the farmers recalled. But more than 200 peasants came from their houses and surrounded the authorities, the farmers said. The police just stood in a line for a few hours before remounting the trucks and bouncing back down the road.
"We've never seen anything like that before, only on TV," an elderly woman said as Deng Suilong recounted the story.
Following that attempt, Yantang sent civilian officials to the village to persuade the peasants to give up their allegations of wrongdoing in the interests of stability. At the same time, the two dead men's families were paid compensation, $21,250 for Deng Silong's family and $22,500 for Deng Jianlan's.