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Apr 11, 2012 | 19:08 GMT

Protests in China's Chongqing Province

MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images

Raucous protests that began April 10 in the Chinese municipality of Chongqing continued through April 11, with thousands gathering in Wansheng district to protest the recent merger of the district into Qijiang County. The protest began in Wansheng district, which is outside Chongqing proper, where locals attacked armed police with rocks. According to dissident website Molihua.org, the group swelled to 100,000 people, and more than 1,000 police were deployed to contain it.

The timing is notable: The protests began the same day that former Chongqing Communist Party Secretary Bo Xilai was suspended from the Communist Party Central Committee and Politburo, and it was announced that Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, was under investigation in the death of British businessman Neil Heywood.

Before Bo's ouster, his policies in Chongqing were considered a model for inland development. However, the popularity of his recent rhetoric advocating the teachings of former Chinese leader Mao Zedong made him a threat to established Communist Party interests. These interests began working to strip him of power and discredit him. After removing a key ally, Chongqing Deputy Mayor Wang Lijun, the interests moved to dismiss Bo from his position as Chongqing Party secretary, finally removing him from his Communist Party positions and announcing an investigation against his wife. Also around this time, rumors began surfacing on Chinese social media that Bo was part of an attempted coup against the Chinese political leadership.

This leads back to the current protests against the Wansheng-Qijiang integration plan, which was put forth under Bo's administration and which protesters are saying has led to the decline of the local economy. Wansheng locals are unhappy with their pensions and medical benefits, believing it was affected by the integration plan. The Chinese government has responded with a news release proposing several solutions to Wansheng citizens' problems and vowing to strictly crack down on violent protesters.

Although the riots in Wansheng may not be directly related to Bo's ouster, the coincidence is noteworthy. As Chinese media continue to demonize Bo, they likely will play up the riots and protests that purportedly highlight his mistakes to ensure his downfall is complete.

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