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A Chinese City's Rage At the Rich And Powerful

A photo from Bo Xun, a Web site created by Chinese dissidents, shows the crowd gathered outside the police station in downtown Chizhou where rioters set three police vehicles on fire. Crowds also looted a nearby supermarket.
A photo from Bo Xun, a Web site created by Chinese dissidents, shows the crowd gathered outside the police station in downtown Chizhou where rioters set three police vehicles on fire. Crowds also looted a nearby supermarket. (Bo Xun)

"I heard somebody screaming, 'The owner of Donghuadong Supermarket is from Zhejiang province. Let's get rid of it,' " he recalled in a telephone interview. "I yelled to them, 'You cannot do that. I have been here more than 20 years. I have made a lot of contributions to Chizhou.' But they wouldn't listen to me."

Instead, after a sudden cloudburst let up, they attacked. Shouting in unison, "One, two, three," using crowbars and hard-toed shoes, Zhou recalled, they smashed down the glass door and poured in.

For more than three hours that sultry evening, the looters helped themselves. They carried away bottles of rice wine and beer. They scooped up handfuls of silver earrings and gold necklaces. They hauled away microwave ovens and, according to witnesses, fled into the darkness with blankets, makeup, perfume, soap and even pots and pans.

"Pretty soon everything was gone," said a motorcycle taxi driver who was in the crowd.

Only after 11 p.m., when 700 more riot police showed up from the Anhui provincial capital, Hefei, did the looting end. By then the first floor was a shambles, emptied of its wares.

Since then, police have made a dozen arrests, authorities said, including three people accused in connection with the beating of Liu, who was hospitalized for two weeks. Police made several videos of the riot, according to witnesses and official accounts. Motorcycle drivers said more than 30 people have been called in to account for actions captured on the tapes.

The city's new Communist Party secretary, Tong Huawei, who by coincidence took over the day after the riot, called in investors July 7 and assured them that, despite the violence, he guaranteed a good environment for business. "You can count on us," he said, according to Zhou, who was present at the meeting.

Tong and the Chizhou mayor, Xie Dexin, reiterated their support for private investors the next day at a ceremony marking Donghuadong's reopening after repairs and restocking. Investors are always encouraged to invest in Chizhou, they said, according to an account of their speeches in the official newspaper, and this city will always be a great place for business.

Researcher Jin Ling contributed to this report.


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