Michael Martina and Adam Rose report for Reuters, Nov. 6, 2013:
Several small bombs exploded in front of a Communist Party building in the northern Chinese city of Taiyuan on Wednesday [Nov. 6], killing one person and injuring another eight, state media said.
The official Xinhua news agency said what appeared to be small-scale bombs went off outside an office building of the Shanxi Provincial Committee of the Communist Party. Taiyuan is the capital of Shanxi province.
“Judging from the scattering of small metal balls, it is suspected that improvised bombs exploded,” the news agency said.
There was no immediate explanation for the attack. But such incidents are not uncommon in China and underscore the government’s worries about stability in the world’s second-largest economy, with a widening gap between rich and poor and growing anger at corruption and environmental issues.
Photos circulated on Chinese social media sites showed smoke filling the wide avenue where the party office is located and vehicles with blown out windows. Emergency trucks were parked outside what appeared to be undamaged buildings.
Xinhua cited residents as saying people in the area scattered after as many as seven blasts went off.
The microblog of the official People’s Daily newspaper said one person had been killed and another eight were injured, including one person with serious injuries.
The Chinese government blamed Islamists for an attack in central Beijing last week when a car ploughed through bystanders on the edge of Tiananmen Square and burst into flames, killing three people in the car and two bystanders.
The incidents come as China ramps up security before top leaders gather on Saturday for a plenum meeting in Beijing to discuss key reforms.
In 2011, a farmer bombed three government buildings in Fuzhou city in Jiangxi province after failing to get redress over seizure of his land. Two people and the farmer were killed.
A 42-year-old farmer with terminal lung cancer detonated a home-made device aboard a bus in Fujian province in 2005, injuring 31 and killing himself, possibly to protest prohibitive healthcare costs.
Why is this news important?
Because time and time again through human history, when a regime is threatened at home, it turns to patriotic nationalism as a way to rally the populace around the flag.
Every government, even the dictatorships, must legitimate its rule, no matter how unconvincing and implausible. The People’s Republic of China is no exception. The Chinese Communist Party knows it is ideologically bankrupt (see “People’s Daily admits Communist Party members no longer believe in Marxism,” Oct. 29, 2013.) So it has turned to irredentist nationalism as a basis of legitimacy. We are seeing a ratcheting up of China’s nationalist passions as the People’s Liberation Army increasingly asserts itself in the East and South China Seas and, in so doing, exacerbates tensions with China’s neighbors whose territorial claims overlap with China’s. Expect even more as China’s economy continues to stall. (See “China’s irredentist nationalism and the six wars to come,” Sept. 23, 2013.)