Riots in Zhongshan, Sichuan migrants take on locals

Posted: 06/27/2012 12:23 pm

Big cities in China are known to have a festering animosity between locals and migrants. The country’s hukou system gives non-natives many disadvantages, and last year, Premier Wen Jiabao talked about putting a stop to this discrimination.

This animosity has now manifested itself in the form of a riot in Zhongshan City, according to local media.

A 13 year-old was set upon by a gang of 15 year-olds in front of the city’s Shaxi Center Primary school. Two locals intervened and tied up the three 15 year-olds. The teenagers who were tied up came from Sichuan and their friends and family gathered to fight back. At around 10 pm, 300 Sichuanese migrants gathered to confront locals and police.

A statement by Zhongshan police said everything was under control, but pictures circulating online show police being beaten and cars being burned. Witnesses said there were at least 300 people involved in the fight. Early reports suggest five people were killed including one policeman.

This footage of riot police approaching the scene has been uploaded, and the news has gone big on Sina Weibo. Sina Weibo user Lee Hong Wei expressed support for the police and the government. Jason Zhangzhengyuan urged police to get the Sichuan “dogs” out of their territory. Another urged the government to be careful about dealing with social unrest. Another called for an end to discrimination against Sichuanese migrants.

Cantonese-languaged media have covered the story, but an official death toll and other key information is yet to emerge.