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27 May 2009

Nanjing college students in clashes with police

THOUSANDS OF students fought with police in the southern Chinese city of Nanjing after the city's administration officers beat up student vendors. The incident occurred on Monday evening 18 May, at a time of high alert for the 'communist' authorities ahead of the 20th anniversary of the 4 June Massacre - the events in Tiananmen Square 1989.

Five students, including one female student from Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, were reportedly beaten up by Nanjing City Management [Bureau], trying to clear the area in front of the university. This led to a street-blocking demonstration by thousands of students from that university.

A bloody clash between thousands of students and riot police reportedly ensued, continuing into Tuesday morning. 30 students were injured, and one police car was smashed up.

The police station in Nanjing's Jiangning Development Zone and the security office at Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics confirmed the incident for the Information Centre for Human Rights in Hong Kong.

The entire incident seems to have been provoked by aggressive tactics from both the City Management Bureau and, later, by the police. Photographs posted on the internet and published in the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) show student protesters holding up placards in English as well as Chinese with the slogan, 'Non-violent and non-cooperation', inspired by the US civil rights movement led by Martin Luther King.

Authorities edgy

Underlining just how sensitive student protests are in this pre- 4 June period, leaders of the provincial government arrived at the university on Tuesday, to ensure the protests are nipped in the bud. Students said that all of the professors have been mobilised to prevent another street demonstration.

As many as 100 riot police personnel were standing by at the entrance to the university. This was the second incident of public student unrest in less than ten days in China.

On 7 May, hundreds of students at Zhejiang University staged a demonstration along the roads of Hangzhou following the killing of a fellow student by a speeding driver. The incident attracted huge interest on the internet.

While the trigger for these incidents does not at first sight appear to be political, both cases show the tense situation that exists on campuses across China as university costs soar, burdening many families with years of indebtedness, while job prospects for graduates are evaporating as a result of the severe economic crisis.


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