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Proceed with care, police told
(China Daily)
Updated: 2008-11-20 07:54

Police departments must standardize procedures for law enforcement and build harmonious relations with the people, the country's top public security official said on Tuesday.

Speaking at a teleconference with local police heads, State Councilor and Minister of Public Security Meng Jianzhu said police should "be fully aware of the challenge brought by the global financial crisis and try their best to maintain social stability".

They must improve methods of law enforcement using "harmonious thinking to ease conflicts", and by having "a harmonious attitude toward people", he said.

In an earlier article, Meng said: "In handling mass incidents, we must be clear that the chief tasks of the public security authorities are to maintain order at the scene, ease conflicts, avoid excessive steps and prevent the situation from getting out of control."

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Officials must exercise caution in using police, weapons and coercive force, he said.

"Incidents involving bloodshed, injury and death should absolutely be avoided."

Meng's comments come in the wake of a clash between protestors and police in Longnan, Gansu province.

On Monday, thousands of people, angered by a property dispute, stormed the city's Party headquarters, smashing windows, burning cars, and injuring more than 60 government workers and police, a statement from the local government said yesterday.

The situation is now "under control", it said.

The Xinhua News Agency reported yesterday that the protesters have left the site and order has been restored.

The riot began after the representatives of 30 families went to the petition office of the Party headquarters to demand the government act on promises made regarding a relocation plan.

Longnan was badly hit by the May 12 earthquake and residents were unhappy with the post-quake reconstruction plan, which would involve them being resettled.

Up to 2,000 people took part in the conflict, Gansu Daily reported.

Gansu Party chief Lu Hao yesterday urged all levels of government to "reflect deeply on the incident and draw lessons from it so as to better deal with social conflicts".

The incident is the latest in a series of clashes between police and the public across the country.

On June 28, 30,000 people went on the rampage in Weng'an county, Guizhou province, following a controversial police report about the death of a local teenage girl. Protestors attacked government buildings, and set fire to more than 160 offices and 40 vehicles. At the time, Provincial Party chief Shi Zongyuan said some officials too often resorted to police intervention to resolve disputes, which had led to strained relations between the public and authorities.

China Daily-Xinhua