context: Party-military relations are often complicated, and even more so under the Xi leadership. Far-reaching military reform and restructuring has come in many different forms, especially where political control is concerned. October of this year saw reforms in how provinces administer veteran affairs, and the recent reaction in Shandong shows that, despite the praise lavished on military martyrs, some changes are fraught with tension.

Shandong provincial Public Security Bureau is prosecuting 10 individuals for wilful injury, disturbing public order, and picking quarrels and provoking trouble, reports Xinhua. From 4 to 7 October, those arrested organised a unlawful protest in the name of military veterans in Pingdu city, Shandong.

From 5 to 6 October, around 300 people gathered in Pingdu’s city square, shouting slogans, drawing onlookers and blocking traffic. Cadres from Pingdu municipal Party committee communicated with the protesters four times, listening to their requests but the protesters demanded financial compensation and refused to leave. The protest turned violent and 34 police officers were injured, and one police bus and three public vehicles were destroyed. Local social order was seriously disrupted with malls and bus lines forced to close, and losses of over 8.2 million incurred.

Xinhua stated that a preliminary police investigation found that from 30 September to 4 October, several of those involved had purchased sledgehammers and clubs, posted false information and videos about being beaten on WeChat groups with two even deliberately injuring themselves. The report says that several of those arrested had already served prison sentences for crimes including drug abuse, fraud and theft.