BEIJING: Authorities in eastern China dispatched riot police yesterday to guard against a resumption of anti-government protests after a day of clashes pitting security forces against thousands of victims of the worst floods in a century.
On Tuesday, residents of Yuyao city massed in front of the local government headquarters, denouncing what they decried as inadequate relief efforts and demanding the local Communist Party secretary and mayor step down. Accounts on microblogs, supported by photographs posted on Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, said they vandalised the government building, using metal tools to pry loose and remove the party slogan “Serve the people” mounted at the entrance.
Photographs showed several residents bleeding from the head.
“We strongly condemn the shameless acts by the police and riot police for using any pretext to beat people,” said a microblogger from the city. But some Internet users said new legal rulings aimed at cracking down on rumours have deterred many from expressing opinions online.
Large numbers of riot police stood guard in the city of one million yesterday morning, according to photos posted by a Chinese rights group, Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch. The founder of the group, Liu Feiyue, said that he had received the photographs from residents.
Party officials dismissed allegations of inaction and state media appealed for an end to the unrest in the city near the East China Sea coast in Zhejiang province.
State media said more than 70 percent of the town was flooded by the heaviest rainfalls in a century after typhoon Fitow hit eastern China.
Some 800,000 residents were affected, with the China News Service putting losses at nearly 7 billion yuan ($1.15bn).
Local authorities have issued no casualty figures.