Officer who gave order to shoot taken into custody

According to the subscription—only South China Morning Post,

The commanding officer who gave the order for police to open fire on demonstrators in a Guangdong village last week, killing at least three people, has been taken into custody, official media said yesterday.

The official Guangzhou Daily did not give the name or title of the officer or specify when he had been detained but said he was being held over his decision to open fire on the villagers' demonstration.

"The commanding officer on the scene mishandled the situation, causing accidental deaths and injuries. The Shanwei prosecutor decided to arrest him under the penal code," the paper said.

The report differed from a statement issued on Saturday by the Shanwei city government, which said only that city authorities were investigating the incident in Dongzhou village. Neither national newspapers nor Guangdong television reported the violence.

Mainland police have strict rules governing the use of firearms and it was not clear if the officer had clearance from his superiors to open fire on protesting villagers.

This is encouraging. Of course, the secrecy surrounding the identity of the commanding officer may be significant, but most likely it means that authorities are taking the time to line up their ducks before going public. If a strong signal is sent to local authorities to use caution in dealing with unrest, some good may result.

But this might be just a tad too optimistic a reading. For one thing, the regime has a great fear of allowing matters to get out of hand, and wants to err on the side of law and order. For another thing, the official reports seem to be understating the extent of the bloodshed, and the locals do not appear to be impressed with the action taken. The SCMP conitnues:

The detention of the officer did little to assuage the anger of villagers, who said they had lost faith in the local government. They urged the central government to investigate but feared that even Beijing's intervention might be too late.

"We do not trust any officials in Guangdong, even the provincial government," said one villager who sat with fellow villagers near last Tuesday's clash site. "They share the same interests and they would only cover for one another."

When a representative of Shanwei government approached villagers yesterday he was jeered by the crowd, who yelled: "Get out of here and go home."

A separate SCMP article reports that the crackdown on the villagers involved appears to be far more earnest than the crackdown on brutal and murderous authorities:

Dongzhou residents believe police have started to comb the village to arrest activists involved in Tuesday's protests that led to police opening fire on demonstrators.

Some villagers said they were afraid to talk because their phones were bugged.

"I don't dare tell you anything," said one. "The police are monitoring the phones in our village. They know all the calls coming in and out." Villagers have been cut off from the outside world and unable to receive news.

One rumour spreading last night said armed police had started searching for activists in the village in Shanwei city .

Another said police were still hunting for at least one protest leader.

Hat tip: China Challenges

According to the subscription—only South China Morning Post,

The commanding officer who gave the order for police to open fire on demonstrators in a Guangdong village last week, killing at least three people, has been taken into custody, official media said yesterday.

The official Guangzhou Daily did not give the name or title of the officer or specify when he had been detained but said he was being held over his decision to open fire on the villagers' demonstration.

"The commanding officer on the scene mishandled the situation, causing accidental deaths and injuries. The Shanwei prosecutor decided to arrest him under the penal code," the paper said.

The report differed from a statement issued on Saturday by the Shanwei city government, which said only that city authorities were investigating the incident in Dongzhou village. Neither national newspapers nor Guangdong television reported the violence.

Mainland police have strict rules governing the use of firearms and it was not clear if the officer had clearance from his superiors to open fire on protesting villagers.

This is encouraging. Of course, the secrecy surrounding the identity of the commanding officer may be significant, but most likely it means that authorities are taking the time to line up their ducks before going public. If a strong signal is sent to local authorities to use caution in dealing with unrest, some good may result.

But this might be just a tad too optimistic a reading. For one thing, the regime has a great fear of allowing matters to get out of hand, and wants to err on the side of law and order. For another thing, the official reports seem to be understating the extent of the bloodshed, and the locals do not appear to be impressed with the action taken. The SCMP conitnues:

The detention of the officer did little to assuage the anger of villagers, who said they had lost faith in the local government. They urged the central government to investigate but feared that even Beijing's intervention might be too late.

"We do not trust any officials in Guangdong, even the provincial government," said one villager who sat with fellow villagers near last Tuesday's clash site. "They share the same interests and they would only cover for one another."

When a representative of Shanwei government approached villagers yesterday he was jeered by the crowd, who yelled: "Get out of here and go home."

A separate SCMP article reports that the crackdown on the villagers involved appears to be far more earnest than the crackdown on brutal and murderous authorities:

Dongzhou residents believe police have started to comb the village to arrest activists involved in Tuesday's protests that led to police opening fire on demonstrators.

Some villagers said they were afraid to talk because their phones were bugged.

"I don't dare tell you anything," said one. "The police are monitoring the phones in our village. They know all the calls coming in and out." Villagers have been cut off from the outside world and unable to receive news.

One rumour spreading last night said armed police had started searching for activists in the village in Shanwei city .

Another said police were still hunting for at least one protest leader.

Hat tip: China Challenges