October 4-7, 2018
Location: Pingdu, Shandong
In October 2018, hundreds of veterans protested in Pingdu, Shandong over reports of police brutality against veterans who petitioned the government for welfare benefits. The protest in Shandong was sparked when a group of 38 elderly veterans traveled to Beijing to petition the government. The petitioners clashed with police, with some sustaining injuries. The petitioners were forcibly sent back to Pingdu by authorities. After the story broke, more than 300 veterans from across China gathered in Pingdu to protest. The protest was cordoned off on October 8; police placed roadblocks at dozens of intersections around the protests and a city-wide lockdown was enforced. Local residents were directed away from the protest site where protestors were kettled by police. Police clashed with protestors, but no serious incidents were reported. The protestors were either escorted back home, taken on “forced vacations,” and some were reportedly detained.
In early December, CCTV, China’s state media, finally reported on the October 4 – 7 protests in Shandong. They described the protests as a “serious violent criminal case” organized under the guise of concerned “military veterans.” Ten veterans have been reportedly detained since the protests.
In recent years, veterans across China have been protesting for better access to welfare benefits and other forms of government assistance. The Ministry of Veterans Affairs was established in March 2018 in response to widespread grievances. Fair access to military pensions and other forms of social insurance is an issue impacting many people in China.