This year has seen a sharp increase in urban and rural protests across China, some involving workers taking strike action, according to press reports and academics.
On 29 June an urban riot involving thousands occurred in the eastern city of Chizhou in Anhui province. Six police were wounded and a supermarket looted before the crowd finally dispersed.
According to Outlook, a Communist party-backed magazine, about 58,000 protests took place across the country in 2003, a rise of 15% over the previous year.
From 1995 to 2001, the number of labour disputes adjudicated by the courts rose from 28,000 to 101,000. Dorothy Solinger of the University of California says “the numbers of urban protests in China have risen dramatically. According to police reports, they are ever larger and better organised.”
Rural uprisings are also on the increase. The most recent took place in a small farming village called Shengyou in Northern China's Hebei province, and gained widespread media attention. In April, residents of the Zhejiang province village of Huaxi engaged over 1,000 police and local officials in hand-to-hand combat, eventually driving the police away.