"In the past few years, the People's Republic of China (PRC) has experienced rising social unrest, including protests, demonstrations, picketing, and group petitioning. According to PRC official sources, 'public order disturbances' grew by nearly 50% from 58,000 incidents in 2003 to 87,000 in 2005. Although political observers have described social unrest among farmers and workers since the early 1990s, recent protest activities have been broader in scope, larger in average size, greater in frequency, and more brash than those of a decade ago. Fears of greater unrest have triggered debates with the Communist Party leadership about the pace of economic reforms and the proper way to respond to protesters. Workers in state-owned enterprises and the special economic zones producing goods for export, peasants and urban residents who have lost their farmland or homes to development projects, and others have engaged in mass protests, some of them violent, often after having exhausted legal channels for resolving grievances. A December 2005 clash between villagers and police in Dongzhou village, southeastern Guangdong province, in which 3-20 villagers were killed, has became a symbol of the depth of anger of those with grievances and the inability of Chinese administrative, legal, and political institutions to resolve disputes peacefully. U.S. interests regarding social unrest in China include human rights concerns, ongoing U.S.-funded democracy and rule-of-law programs in the country, the effects of social unrest on U.S. investments in China, and the effects on PRC foreign policy."
CRS Report for Congress, RL33416