A few days ago a truck driver named Gan in Sichuan Province in southwest China was confronted by the police for illegally parking his truck. The driver and the cop got into a heated argument. The description in the Beijing controlled Global Times said in one place there was a scuffle, it indicated there was only a verbal altercation in another. The driver “suddenly felt uncomfortable” and indicated he had medicine in his truck that would help him. The police couldn’t find the medicine, but a bystander did. The driver took the medicine, and an ambulance was called. Despite treatment administered at the scene, the man died.

There was no mention of excessive police brutality causing the man’s sickness, and the fact that he carried medicine with him seems to indicate his condition was chronic, though the immediate cause of his death was indeterminable.

By the time the ambulance arrived a crowd of onlookers had gathered. When the man died, they began to riot. The riot lasted until 04:00 the next morning and seven police cars were burned. According to the report, no people or police were injured during the riot.

While the government version of the event as reported in the Global Times may have been skewed to make the police look less culpable than they really were, the fact that a major riot broke out indicates there is serious discontent bubbling under the surface in Chinese society. That a relatively insignificant incident like this is enough to set off a major riot speaks volumes about the people’s anti-government feelings.

It is not that the Chinese people yearn for democracy, they don’t. Most are just fed up with the corruption that comes with a well entrenched, all powerful, highly bureaucratic government. The government makes their lives more difficult in many ways. They are tired of it.

The government has set up a team to investigate the incident, and promised to announce the results quickly. I’m willing to bet we will never hear another word about it. Another fire was extinguished. Things can now return to as they were until the next incidence of spontaneous combustion ignites.

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