Thousands of Chinese rioted in a dispute sparked by a lopsided roadside brawl, set fire to cars and wounded six police officers in an outburst likely to worry communist leaders in Beijing. The official Xinhua news agency blamed Sunday's riot in Chizhou in dirt-poor eastern Anhui province on a few criminal. The violence was the latest in a series of protests which the Communist Party fears could become a channel for anger over corruption and a growing gap between rich and poor. It started before 3 p.m. when a Toyota sedan grazed a student crossing the street and the teen and the driver quarreled. A few men emerged from the car and set on the student. The men were taken to a police station and a crowd that had been watching the fight swarmed around the building, demanding that the men be handed over to them. The crowd, now numbering as many as 10,000, also flipped three parked police cars and set them ablaze. Protests have become increasingly common in China, fueled by corruption and the widening wealth gap, but authorities are keen to quickly quash dissent and preserve stability. There were more than 58,000 protests, many of them over land rights disputes, across the country in 2003, a Communist Party-backed magazine, Outlook, has reported.