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Traditional means of controlling public no longer work

By Wang Huazhong (China Daily)

13:37, October 19, 2012

Traditional means of exerting control and pressure on the public have lost their effectiveness in stabilizing society, the Party chief of Weng'an county has said.

Sha Xiangui, Party chief of Weng'an county in Southwest China's Guizhou province, was speaking to People's Daily about the lessons learned from the violent protests in the county in 2008, when the government was attacked by thousands of angry locals.

"The traditional means (of exerting control and pressure) neglect the appeals of the disadvantaged and ignore the power of social groups," Sha said to People's Daily.

"Failing to negotiate and coordinate will foment small issues into big ones, and make big issues explode."

Sha said the crux of the problem in 2008 was that the government had failed to improve people's livelihoods despite the county's remarkable economic development prior to the unrest. Statistics show that the county's gross domestic product nearly doubled in eight years to 2008.

"Developing the economy is a way (to address problems), but the object is to develop the society," Sha said.

About 30,000 people took part in the Weng'an protest on June 27, 2008, torching government buildings, police stations and cars, and injuring at least 150 people. The violence started with 300 people protesting against the contents of a police report on the death of a 17-year-old girl.

The police report stated that the girl had drowned, but the girls' family alleged that she had been raped and murdered by the relatives of local officials.

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