Dui Hua’s Mass Incident Monitor tracks unrest in China and those detained for their participation in these events. Monitoring these events allows for a greater understanding in how Chinese police investigate such incidents and the measures they take to prevent them. Key to preventing the outbreak of mass incidents—and their transformation into destabilizing political affairs—is expansion of police intelligence-gathering activity. The role of social unrest as a breeding ground for subversive activity makes mass incidents a key area for continued research for Dui Hua.
P2P Victims Protests in Beijing and Shanghai, August 2018
Participants: 200 in Beijing; 300 in Shanghai
Location: Beijing and Shanghai
Several protests were recorded in Beijing and Shanghai over the collapse of online peer-to-peer lending platforms. As a growing market with a total volume of 2.8 trillion yuan and more than 50 million users in 2017, the default of the more than 700 platforms this year brought hundreds of ‘financial refugees’ onto the streets in protest.
On August 6, nearly 200 investors assembled at a park in Beijing to march towards the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC). Police were quickly deployed to disperse the crowd. Protesters were halted and put on buses before they could even enter the financial district and many protesters were stopped in their home province before they could even make it to Beijing.
In Shanghai, around 300 individuals who lost their money on the P2P platform PPMiao protested on August 20. The platform had a membership of 360,000 and a total investment of nearly 5 billion yuan. One of the victims later committed suicide; video footage showed that she had been dragged off by police officers while petitioning against the platform. An internal notice by the People’s Liberation Army circulated online called for the stability maintenance on those army personnel who fell victims.
In response to the crisis, regulators pledged to complete a total inspection on the industry at the end of year.
Mosque Demolitions Protests August 5 – 11, 2018
Participants: Hundreds of ethnic Hui minorities
Location: Tongxin County, Ningxia
A protest erupted following the demolition of a newly-built grand mosque in Tongxin County Weizhou Township. The protest came to an end after authorities agreed protesters demands to delay the plan. The Islamic-styled mosque came under fire on social media for contravening the policy of religious “sinicization.” The mosque’s ornamental decor was criticized, given the county’s reputation as one of the poorest counties in China. Without building approval, the mosque was scheduled to be pulled down on Aug 11. Videos footages showed Hui Muslims protesters holding China national flag and chanting slogans like ‘Support Chinese Communist Party; Maintain national unity; Protect religious freedom’ – a typical way of showing grievances without challenging CCP rule. The demolition was stopped under pressure of Hui Muslims protesters. The Weizhou Grand Mosque was originally a Chinese-styled architecture demolished during Cultural Revolution, and it was rebuilt with the township government support.
Jasic Tech Workers and Supporters Protests May – August 2018
Participants: Hundreds of workers and solidarity protestors
Location: Shenzhen and Huizhou
Shenzhen authorities suppressed attempts by workers from Jasic Technology (hereafter Jasic) to form a trade union. Jasic is a Shenzhen-listed company that produces welding equipment. Workers at a Jasic factory, Pingshan District factory, complained about overtime, wage theft, and arbitrary fines.
In July, after seeking advice from the district level official trade union office, worker representatives at Jasic attempted to form a trade union in the factory in accordance with China’s Trade Union Law. However, their efforts were rejected by Jasic, and the leaders were then laid off and physically assaulted by security officers. On July 20, dozens of protesting workers were briefly detained by police officers.
The intervention by university students and other leftist groups further escalated the protests (Image right: Screen grab from the student’s most recent video.) On July 27, thirty individuals were detained for “picking quarrels” while protesting Jasic’s violent approach to handling the protests. The so-called “7.27 Incidents” sparked outrage among university students in China. On July 29, supporters of the protests gathered outside a police station, chanting slogans and singing L’Internationale. The next day, fifteen protesters were summoned following a clash with police officers in the district government headquarter. On August 10, three unidentified men, likely plainclothes, detained Shen Mengyu, the leader of the supporter group, at a restaurant. On August 24, police officers broke into a flat in Huizhou and detained another 50 supporters, marking the end of the protests.
Jasic denied any exploitation and violence against workers. In response to the protests, Jasic formed its own pro-employer ‘Workers Congress.’ The official district trade union is in cooperation with Jasic management. State media accused ‘overseas forces’ of intervention, targeting the Dagongzhe Migrant Worker Centre, a labor organization based in Shenzhen, which denied any participation.
During the protests, many observers were surprised to see the solidarity and support shown by university students. Many of the students who identified as leftists penned open letters, documented the protests and traveled to Shenzhen to show their support to the working class protesters. Scholars and labor organizations overseas called on authorities to release the detained protesters.