WASHINGTON - Hundreds of additional paramilitary troops were guarding the homes of high-level cadres in Daqing, China, on Tuesday, following a large-scale protest by disgruntled workers in the industrial northeastern city, witnesses told Radio Free Asia (RFA). Three workers who read satirical poems at Tieren Square in Daqing during the protest Monday remained in custody a day later, one witness told Han Dongfang, RFA's Mandarin-language talk-show host. "The authorities have dispatched hundreds of extra paramilitary troops to reinforce security around the clock at the buildings housing high-level cadres and their families," a female worker who has joined escalating protests in the square since early March told RFA. "A female worker in her 50s who read limericks was arrested for inciting the crowd," the witness, who asked not to be named, said. "Another worker who satirized official corruption in limericks has disappeared. There were also banners that criticized corruption and unfair treatment of workers." "The workers were very angry," she said. "On March 18, they let the air out of the tires of an official's car and wrote (graffiti) on it. They stormed a local finance office and smashed doors and windows." "There is a sharp division between the rich and the poor. The inequality leads to social instability," she said, adding that at least a dozen people have been detained in Daqing over the last month. The caller also confirmed reports that a sedan struck and seriously injured several protesters, who remain hospitalized. Authorities have detained the driver. Another witness told RFA that the crowd of protesters on Monday included "college students, senior engineers, cadres with technical backgrounds, and roughly 40 teachers from Daqing Normal College." "There were also teachers from high schools and elementary schools," she said. Daqing constitutes the heart of China's oil industry. Tens of thousands of laid-off workers have been protesting there for weeks, complaining of unpaid pensions and unemployment benefits. According to Agence France-Presse, those demonstrations died down after the government suggested workers had failed to understand a scheme by the Daqing Petroleum Administration Bureau to raise pension premiums. Some workers are still demanding re-employment, however. Radio Free Asia (RFA) broadcasts news, information, and cultural programming to Asian listeners who lack regular access to full and balanced reporting in their domestic media. Through its broadcasts and call-in programs, RFA aims to fill a critical gap in the lives of people across Asia-giving them a voice as well as a means of connecting with the world and with one another. Created by Congress in 1994 and incorporated in 1996, RFA currently broadcasts in Burmese, Cantonese, Khmer, Korean, Lao, Mandarin, the Wu dialect, Vietnamese, Tibetan (Uke, Amdo, and Kham), and Uyghur. It adheres to the highest standards of journalism and aims to exemplify accuracy, balance, and fairness in its editorial content.


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