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Uni: Students not involved in clash

A SENIOR official at a university in Jiangsu Province yesterday denied foreign media reports that students clashed with police on Monday night.

Chen Xiachu, deputy Communist Party chief of Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, said the conflict involved urban management personnel and sidewalk peddlers near the campus in Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu.

"Up to 1,000 people were watching, including about 100 of our students," he said. "The street was then blocked and traffic was at a standstill."

Chen said the incident lasted from 7:30pm to 10:40pm outside a supermarket across the street from the new campus in Jiangning District.

Chen said he was not on campus at the time. "I arrived about 10pm to help police and city management staff disperse the onlookers."

The school board investigated on Monday night and confirmed none of its students were peddling or involved in any violence, he said.

"Foreign media reports about students clashing with police and consequent injuries were groundless," Chen said.

NUAA students who witnessed the incident, either at the scene or from the balconies of their high-rise dormitories, confirmed no students were involved in the conflict.

They did, however, finger city management personnel, who "violently" tried to clear the vendors from the street by confiscating their wares.

"The vendors were protesting and my friends and I were secretly sympathetic," said Deng Haichuan, a junior student at the NUAA Business School, who witnessed the scene on his way to dinner with classmates.

"The situation quickly got out of control, with some vendors confronting uniformed men and calling on onlookers to use violence," he said.

A few young men and women then took out signs with slogans, printed in English and Chinese, including "nonviolent and noncooperation" and "help vulnerable social groups and co-construct a harmonious society," Deng said. "It was unclear who these people were. Seemingly they were not among the vendors."

A city management official said the incident happened after they tried to clean the street of vendors.

"We didn't beat them or rough them up," said Wu Qiangguo, deputy chief of the city management team of Jiangning District. "Most vendors were cooperative, and police detained two people who refused to leave."

Nanjing urban management personnel, known as "chengguan" in Chinese, are notorious for roughing up vendors and even buyers. Last year, two diners at an unregistered night market were beaten up for giving a sarcastic thumbs up to management staff who were violently removing snack stands.


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