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China protesters block rail lines

BBC | March 22, 2007

Hundreds of demonstrators blocked key railway lines in eastern China in protest at threats to their benefits, state media has reported.
More than 200 protesters, and several hundred onlookers, descended on two lines near Guixi in Jiangxi province.

They were protesting at planned zoning changes in Guixi which could impact on income and benefits, the reports said.

Protests, particularly in rural China, have become increasingly common as the gap between rich and poor has widened.

Many of the protests have been linked to land seizures and corruption among local officials.

Some 20,000 people clashed with police in central Hunan province last week after protesting at an attempt by a bus company to double the price of tickets.

Reports that one person had died were denied by the authorities.

Popular route

In the latest incident, protesters arrived at the railway station in Guixi shortly before noon on Wednesday, the state news agency Xinhua said.

They blocked two railway lines, including a heavily-used track that links Shanghai in the east to Kunming, the capital of south-western Yunnan province.

The protest went on for at least four hours before it was broken up by police and officials who had been called to the scene, the reports said.

The protesters were voicing their anger at a plan to place parts of Guixi under the control of a different district, which would have an impact on benefits.

"They worried that the re-division would affect their salaries and welfare," the Xinhua report said.

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