Deadly clashes between rival peasant clans have flared recently in China's southern Guangdong Province in a further sign of a resurgence of the ancient patriarchal groups.Three people were killed and 50 wounded when feuding clansmen fought a nine-day battle in Guangdong's Suixi County last month, the official Nanfang Daily newspaper reported last week. The report offered no reason for the warring that broke out on the morning of May 12 between peasants from the villages of Huanglue and Wenche. However, territorial disputes are a common source of hostilities among clans, which controlled huge tracts of land in China before the 1949 Communist revolution, as the Monitor reported April 23. The dispute was just one of 55 armed fights that erupted in villages around the coastal city of Zhanjiang from January to May this year, leaving a total of 14 people dead and about 200 wounded, the paper revealed. Since 1980, thousands of clan fights have caused economic damage equivalent to more than $86 million in the Zhanjiang region alone, it said. The clashes underscore recent surveys by Chinese social scientists documenting a revival of the fiercely competitive clans, which unite men who descend from a common male ancestor. Some scholars believe that the growing influence of clans is threatening the Communist Party's grip on rural villages inhabited by millions of Chinese peasants. The blood brotherhoods are especially strong in southern and eastern China, far from Beijing rulers, where historically they dominated the countryside with their own sets of laws, rituals, and armies. However, they are also found further north, scholars say.

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