Thursday, May 26, 2011

Bomb blasts hit Fuzhou, China

Media reports say that 2 people have died and 6 others have been injured following 3 separate car bomb explosions outside government offices in Fuzhou in China's Jiangxi province.

The nearly simultaneous blasts occurred Thursday morning [26th May]. The first explosion struck outside the Linchuan District prosecutors building at 9:18 local time [01:18 GMT], followed soon after by another at the district government building at 9:29 [01:29 GMT]. A third explosion was reported near the local drug administration office at 9:45 [01:45 GMT].

Authorities swiftly closed off the areas around the buildings and some reports on social networking sites claimed police were deleting pictures taken by passers-by.

Huge plumes of smoke rose from the three sites and windows in nearby building were blown out by the blasts. Some reports circulating said the bombs were planted by an "angry farmer" said to have been incensed by an earlier court ruling [Shanghai Daily / Al Jazeera / BBC / France 24 / AP-Yahoo / Xinhua (Chinese)].

While citizens in China's cities are reaping the benefits of the country's economic development, there is growing discontent in poor rural areas. Earlier this month, dozens of people were injured in in a petrol bomb attack on a bank, by a disgruntled former employee, in north-west Gansu province.

Ethnic tensions, terrorists & disgruntled peasants

Rising ethnic tensions in some areas are also creating concerns. In August last year a bomb blast killed 7 and injured 14 in Aksu city in the western Xinjiang province. That was said to have been set off by a Uighur man who drove a three-wheeled vehicle carrying an explosive device into a crowd [BBC / tvnewswatch].

In 2008 a week before the Olympic games bombs tore through buses in central Kunming in the south-western province of Yunnan. The blasts killed two passengers and injured at least 10 others on the morning of the 21st July, the same date as a number of failed suicide attacks on London's transport system in 2005 [tvnewswatch].

Those attacks were blamed on a disgruntled citizen, Li Yan [李彦], who was caught after the bomb he was carrying detonated at the Salvadors coffee shop in Kunming on 24th December. While he is said to have admitted to the July bus blasts a little know terrorist group had earlier claimed responsibility.

The Turkestan Islamic Party said it had carried out the attacks describing it as part of its "Blessed Jihad in Yunnan" [tvnewswatch]. However, officials dismissed any terrorist links to the explosions, and said DNA found at the bus blasts and a confession from Li proved his involvement [tvnewswatch].

While China is certainly in the sights of al-Qaeda, especially since the crack down on ethnic Muslims in Xinjiang [tvnewswatch]. It is likely that
today's attacks were connected with domestic issues. Land grabs by authorities have certainly raised tensions in some areas and there have been cases where individuals have resorted to extreme measures following overzealous treatment by police. In July 2008 a man stabbed several policemen to death and set fire to the police station in Shanghai last July as retribution for perceived maltreatment by the authorities [BBC].


There have been other signs of frustration seen in the last week concerning China's censorship machine. Last Friday Fang Binxing, widely seen as the father of the Great Firewall of China, turned up at Wuhan university to give a lecture. But his presence was not appreciated by everybody. News spread on Twitter, which although blocked in China, is used by many tech savvy Chinese who are able to jump the wall. On seeing the messages one student armed himself with an egg which he threw at the much detested official. On missing its target the student three his shoes, the first of which hit Fang square in the chest. News of the incident sent China's Internet into a frenzy. While news website initially reported the incident, many were forced to remove the posts and micro-blogging posts were also deleted by authorities. Blocks were soon put on the use of Fang Binxing's name, the irony was not missed by China's army of micro-bloggers who have now termed the incident 'shoe-gate' [China Digital Times - Twitter responses / China Digital Times / Telegraph / BBC / CNN / Time / PC World / Forbes / FangBinXing AppSpot (Chinese) / news report (Chinese)].

There may not be a Jasmine revolution brewing in China, but there is an undercurrent of growing discontent.

tvnewswatch, Beijing, China

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