Last month there were violent demonstrations in Shifang against plans by the Shifang city government to construct a copper alloy plant. Sources there reported that many dozens were injured in riots that broke out during the three day protests Eyewitnesses also suggested that police used excessive force on protestors firing tear gas and indiscriminately beating up ordinary people.
Social tensions are growing in China and this latest demonstration in Quidong, where emboldened angry citizens shouted anti-corruption slogans as well as anti-pollution slogans, is a sign that perhaps citizen discontent is reaching a critical point in contemporary Chinese society.
The protest took place last Saturday, 28th July, and reflects growing concern amongst ordinary Chinese about unchecked economic growth, and its effects and consequences on the environment, but also however the confrontations seem to be acting as a lightning rod for discontent relating to corruption amongst politicians and social elites.
Reports vary about the size of the demonstration from different media outlets but it seems that as many as between 50 thousand and 100 thousand may have taken part.
Thousands of people were said to have ransacked government offices and overturned cars in the riots. Demonstrators also fought with police in scenes similar to previous environmental protests elsewhere in China in the last few months and years.
The recent demonstrations are a direct challenge to the Chinese authorities' vision of social stability within Chinese society, and maintaining that stability and harmony at all costs. State sponsored media in China have said that local government should work harder to foster 'rational interaction' between the people and the authorities in order to avoid 'irrational emotions and 'extreme behavior'.
The People's Daily, the Communist Party's official propaganda organ said: "Being a responsible government means to make oneself independent of the specific entanglements of economic interests and become the implementor of the public interest, balancer of economic interests".