Nestled in an idyllic scenic area in southwest China’s Guizhou Province, picturesque Liping County became the stage for violent clashes over the weekend between local villagers and riot police.
“Thousands” of locals, mainly members of the Dong ethnic minority, participated in demonstrations on June 27, overturning more than ten police vehicles.
Hundreds were injured during the clashes, and one woman was beaten to death by baton-wielding police, according to Falun Gong-founded New Tang Dynasty Television.
The protests reportedly began when the county government sent armed police to guard demolition crews as they tore down a series of local homes that did not comply with building codes.
Famed as one of the “Six Most Beautiful Old Towns in China,” regulations decree that any new builds in Liping must have a wooden exterior to fit in with the traditional architecture of the 800-year-old settlement, and cannot exceed a certain height.
Villagers who gathered around the scene began hurling stones and bricks at the police. After their retreat, tactical units from the surrounding area were moved into the village to suppress the unrest.
The next morning, both the village and township heads fled Liping along with other government officials, and images and videos of the unrest were removed online.
One of the 55 ethnic minorities officially recognised by Beijing, the Dong number close to three million people, mostly concentrated in Guizhou, Guangxi and Hunan. Liping is home to 1,000 households and 6,000 people.