Chinese peasants see one-child raids as cover for theft

Greed and corruption may be behind a series of one-child-policy raids that caused riots in southern China.

Greed and corruption may be behind a seriesof one-child-policy raids that caused riots in southern China this month, the CBC's Anthony Germain reports.

Local population-control officials descended on a number of towns and villages and forced dozens of women to have abortions.

They also had power to confiscate property and collect heavy fines.

Reporting from Guangxi province, Germain says the riots appear to have been sparked byofficial thievery, notcompulsory abortions.

"Pigs, furniture, cash. People here say officials took whatever they could," he says.

One man told him: "Corruption is a very serious problem here.… These officials have no receipts or proper documentation. They just took the farmers' money and pigs for themselves."

The initial stories leaking out of Guangxi were bad enough: In the middle of the night, officials responsible for the one-child policy started pounding on the doors of people suspected of being illegally pregnant.

Women were arrested and forced to have abortions. Reports suggest that some are still recovering from sterilization procedures.

After the raids, peasants were told there were no written records of the livestock that was seized or the fines and payments people were forced to make.

Believing the raids were a shakedown disguised as population control, theystarted looting offices and attacking police stations.

The government sent in hundreds of extra police and even some army units to restore order. Beijing says it will investigate why these raids happened and where the money and property went.

There are thousands of unreported clashes in rural China every year and theft dressed up as law enforcement is often what turns peaceful peasants violent, Germain reports.