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Local Gov't Urged Restraint in Handling Protests
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The Study Times, a weekly sponsored by the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, said government officials should resolve mass incidents through negotiations, instead of resorting to force, which may intensify the conflicts.

Police force should only be used in cases where mass incidents have violated laws and regulations, and the use of firearms should be undertaken with caution, it said.

Local governments should carefully distinguish the difference between a collective appeal for help to the higher authorities and a violation of the law, it said.

It urged officials at all levels to make more efforts to prevent mass incidents from happening by bridging China's expanding wealth gap and reducing regional inequality between the eastern and western parts of the country.

Local governments should also strengthen efforts against corrupt activities such as land grabs to ensure farmers' interests are not harmed, it said.

Earlier this month, villagers from the town of Zhushan in central China's Hunan province clashed with local police over rising bus fares.

Local police and government officials calmed the incident by force after villagers "burned several buses and surrounded the police station throwing stones at police officers."

(Xinhua News Agency March 23, 2007)

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