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Business disputes add to instability

BEIJING, June 16 – China\’s top law official has warned social stability is under increasing threat from labour and business disputes in the midst of the global crisis, according to remarks published Tuesday.

Senior Communist Party leader Zhou Yongkang said that in this situation China\’s security forces need to step up their efforts to quell unrest and protect people\’s lives and property.

"We must clearly realise that the country is still in a period where the internal conflicts among the public remain acute, criminal cases are peaking and the fight against hostile forces remains complicated," Zhou said.

"New tensions of disputes in the areas of labour, contract and debt keep emerging while old problems arising from issues like land acquisition, house relocation, company ownership reform and legal disputes are getting worse."

"These problems, if not handled properly, could easily trigger unrest," Zhou said in a speech given on May 18, but carried by the party\’s official magazine Qiushi, or "Seeking Truth", Tuesday.

The potential for tension has risen markedly in recent months since the global crisis hit China\’s export-dependent economy, causing millions to lose their jobs.

Zhou ordered greater resources and stepped up technology for police forces, while urging government departments to increase inter-ministerial coordination in snuffing out potential unrest.

The former minister of police said that since 2005, civil, judicial and police departments have investigated 16.91 million disputes among the people and successfully arbitrated 15.98 million of them.

While praising the work of law officials in maintaining social stability through the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Zhou said that such efforts must be strengthened, expanded and continued.

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"Every region and every department must take care of prominent security issues that seriously influence social stability and endanger the lives and property of the people," Zhou said.

"We must quickly organise and deploy comprehensive actions to resolutely oppress the arrogance of the criminals."

Zhou currently sits on the party\’s powerful nine-member standing committee and heads its politics and law committee, the nation\’s top legal body that controls both courts and police.

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