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China offers cash, residency in hunt for rioters

HONG KONG, June 20, 2011 (AFP) - Police in southern China have reportedly offered cash rewards and residency to migrant workers who give information leading to the arrest of those involved in three days of wild riots.

The violence in Xintang, a district in Guangzhou -- the country's industrial heartland -- began on June 10 after rumours spread that police had beaten a street hawker to death and manhandled his pregnant wife.

Television images of the unrest showed hundreds of officers deployed along with armoured vehicles, as people hurled bricks and bottles, and vandalised ATMs and police posts.

The violence was the latest in a series of flare-ups in the country, which analysts say highlight resentment towards an unresponsive government.

In a notice published on the front page of the local Zengcheng Daily on Sunday, police announced a reward of 5,000 to 10,000 yuan ($772-$1,544) for tip-offs leading to successful arrests of those who took part in the riots.

"We urge the public not to fall under the influence of those seeking to incite and instigate," said the four-paragraph notice.

"We urge the criminals to surrender as soon as possible, to confess their acts in order to plead for leniency," it added.

Apart from the cash reward, the police also offered informers the title of "righteous good citizen" and the additional award of "outstanding migrant worker" as well as local residency.

Migrant workers throughout China are typically not registered as legal residents in the areas where they have moved, which deprives them access to primary education for their children and a range of other government services.

Official statistics show Xintang has a local population of around 200,000 but as many as 500,000 to 600,000 unregistered migrant workers live in the garment district without access to public services.

State media on Saturday said 19 people suspected of "provoking incidents" have been arrested in the aftermath of the riots, in addition to another 25 who were arrested earlier in attempts to quell the unrest.

The man rumoured to have been killed was presented at a news conference by authorities two weeks ago, and told reporters that he, his wife and their unborn baby girl were "doing very well".

The Guangzhou troubles followed a mass protest in the central province of Hubei on June 9, when 1,500 people clashed with riot squads following the alleged death in police custody of a local legislator.

The protests have compounded the jitters of a government already wary about the potential for Arab-style unrest to spread to China, and for rising inflation to spark more violence.

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