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China Tells Police to Better Address Citizens’ Complaints

China Tells Police to Better Address Citizens’ Complaints
A resident passes protest banners on a street in Wukan, a fishing village in the southern province of Guangdong. Protests in Wukan last week led to armed officers restricting the movements of villagers. Source: AFP/Getty Images

China ordered police to begin a six-month campaign to improve how they deal with complaints from the public as the authorities face incidents of social unrest including a protest last week in the village of Wukan.

Police officers will be sent to households to help settle disputes and complaints, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported on Dec. 17, citing Zhou Yongkang, who is in charge of the country’s security issues as a member of the Communist Party’s ruling Politburo Standing Committee.

The campaign will cement ties between the police and the people, Xinhua cited Zhou as saying. The Ministry of Public Security began the program on Dec. 16, Xinhua reported.

China’s Communist Party leaders are seeking to maintain stability in the world’s most-populous country, where three decades of growth averaging 10.1 percent a year has also led to increasing income disparities and outbreaks of social unrest. Protests in Wukan in southern China last week, after the death of a butcher in police custody, led to armed officers restricting the movements of villagers.

The butcher, Xue Jinbo, died of heart failure, according to the local government. He was “suspected” of leading more than 400 villagers to “vent their anger” over a land dispute, Xinhua reported previously. Wukan is about 150 kilometers (93 miles) east of Hong Kong in Guangdong Province.

Wukan village representative Lin Zulian addressed a crowd of more than 6,000 people on Dec. 17 and vowed to march on the main administrative town if government officials and police refuse to hand over Xue’s body within five days, according to the U.K.’s Telegraph newspaper.

Positive Image

Zhou’s written instructions to police called on officers to build a positive image during the campaign, according to Xinhua. The desirable “positive image” will only be possible by promptly addressing the most-attended security issues, Xinhua reported in the Dec. 17 article, citing Meng Jianzhu, China’s minister of public security.

Beijing, China’s capital, asked all users of Twitter-like microblog services to verify their identities, Xinhua reported last week, in a bid to tighten control of the world’s largest Internet market.

Chinese officials have pressured microblog services to strengthen supervision of users after a fatal rail crash in July sparked an outburst of criticism of the government. The sites should serve the Communist Party and stop the spread of “false and harmful information,” the nation’s top Internet regulator said in October.

Fake Accounts

Under the new rules, Beijing’s city government will ban users from setting up fake microblog accounts and sending messages containing state secrets and information that harms national security, Xinhua reported.

Sina Weibo, a Twitter-like service run by U.S.-listed Sina Corp., has blocked references to Wukan among other politically sensitive words, such as the Dalai Lama.

Microblogs have at least 300 million registered users in China and Sina Weibo accounted for 66 percent of the market in August, according to a Sept. 15 report by brokerage firm BOCOM International.

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