Calm has returned to two townships in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region which saw the latest flare-ups in a series of protests against local family planning policies on Tuesday, a local government spokesman said.
Hundreds of people in the Yangmei township of Rongxian County gathered in front of the local family planning office at midday Tuesday, contesting penalties levied for having more than one child, said a spokesman with the county government.
The protestors brandished papers claiming the penalty for a second child had been reduced to 1,000 yuan, and demanded a refund, the spokesman said.
Some of them forced their way into the office, where they smashed furniture and set fire to government vehicles, he added.
Local police said the protestors had been incited by a small group of ringleaders whose dialect indicated they were not natives of the county.
The instigators reportedly quoted a so-called "government paper" that said the maximum penalty for having a second child was only a few thousand yuan, while locals had been forced to pay at least 10,000 yuan (US$1,300).
The county government said their "government paper" was a fake and penalties being levied were in line with laws.
The spokesman said a similar incident was reported in the same county’s Lingshan township at midday Tuesday, when several hundred people smashed window panes at the township government office.
By late afternoon, calm had returned to all the townships, he said.
At a meeting held on Tuesday night, county government officials and Yulin city officials agreed they would listen to the locals' complaints and work to resolve conflicts in the interest of social stability.
Incidents were also reported in Bobai County, not far from Rongxian, from May 17 to 20, when government facilities and documents were damaged and vehicles torched. Twenty-eight people suspected of instigating the attacks were detained by police, according to the local government.
In these incidents the protestors also complained that local government workers were "rude" and "suspected of collecting illegal fees" in dealing with violators of the country's family planning policy.
(Xinhua News Agency May 31, 2007)