October 28th, 2011 | Global Times Violence highlights weak grass-roots governance
Violent riots broke out Wednesday in Zhili, a town in Huzhou, Zhejiang Province, and local authorities have taken necessary steps to prevent the violence from spreading. However, the root of this incident requires serious thought.
Huzhou is the base of China’s largest manufacturer for children’s apparel, and is composed of a large number of small enterprises and migrant workers. The reason behind the protests is because the annual poll tax was raised from 300 yuan to 600 yuan. Hostile sentiment spread from people opposing the tax to other bystanders, causing a riot. Several vehicles, including police cars, were damaged. It cannot be ruled out that certain people who are unsatisfied with society are inspired to put oil on a fire.
This type of mass demonstration is typical in today’s China, including the reasons behind it. At the grassroots level, authorities are plagued by various conflicts. But the incident in Huzhou indicates a dangerous trend that some conflicts can turn to violence. This trend must be stopped.
Each of these incidents is also a serious warning to other potentially troubled regions. It sounds an alarm for those who caused the conflicts, and for those who dare to defile the law during demonstrations.
First of all, we need to punish those who choose to use violence during a mass demonstration. The punishment should be open, swift, and, if necessary, very tough. This will help establish a clear message in our society when mass demonstrations occur that says violence will not be tolerated. The opportunistic thinking which believes the law will pardon the masses must be eliminated from society.
Secondly, any person or media who promotes violence should be held accountable and punished. There is a clear difference between analyzing the incidents and promoting violence. No exceptions can be found around the globe.
While attending to social discontent, preventing mass demonstrations from turning into violence, governments at various levels should focus more on the complexity of grass-roots governance, especially the ability to defuse conflicts between the public and government at the grassroots level. They are the foundation of the Chinese government’s leadership and service.
It is inevitable that officials at the grass-roots level do not have the ability to match their requirements. That means senior officials need to put more attention on government at the grass-roots level, addressing small issues in time before they grow into serious problems.
Being held accountable is necessary, since public opinion calls for that, and it could serve as a warning to officials from other places. “Serving the People” is not just a slogan. Public interests cannot be victimized by special interests.
By Global Times