Police in southern China have arrested 19 people in connection with one of the worst outbreaks of civil unrest seen in the export-oriented Guangdong province in years, Chinese media reported on Friday.
A heavy police presence remained on the streets of Zengcheng city, where simmering resentment among the huge migrant worker community over perceived discrimination and social pressures such as rising inflation erupted in rioting over the weekend.
Authorities in Guangzhou said they had arrested 19 people on various charges including intentional damage of property, creating disturbances and obstruction of official functions, Caijing magazine reported, citing a public notice.
The riots, which sparked off on Friday evening after the abuse of a pregnant migrant street hawker, flared over three days and saw rampaging mobs smash and burn government offices, pelt police with stones and bottles and overturn scores of vehicles.
A newspaper in Zengcheng(www.zcwin.comm), a major denin and garments hub, carried a detailed list of the 19 suspects, most of whom were migrants from outside provinces and included nine teenagers.
Though China’s 150 million or so rural migrant workers have gained better wages and treatment in recent years, the gap between them and established urban residents remains wide, fuelling anger about discrimination and ill-treatment.
Other clashes have erupted in southern China in recent weeks, including in Chaozhou, where hundreds of migrant workers demanding payment of their wages at a ceramics factory attacked government buildings and set vehicles ablaze.
Authorities stressed that the riot police had not caused any deaths or injuries in restoring order, nor had they fired any shots, contradicting some online rumours, Caijing said.
Some migrants in Zengcheng, however, told Reuters that dozens, if not hundreds of people had been detained during the clashes and many still had not been released.
Police earlier detained a suspect on suspicion of spreading rumours on the Internet that may have exacerbated the unrest [ID:nL3E7HG1Y6], with many feverish rumours circulating during the unrest of numerous deaths from police brutality.