Videos of the Zhengzhou student riots that we mentioned in our last post have now surfaced on the internet. In addition to the one on the right, which is from a news broadcast, we also found this jerky, blurry, cameraphone video of some students trying to overturn a car. To recap: Situation started with a female student vendor getting violently beaten by two city inspectors (城管) to the point that some of her teeth were knocked out. News of this spread, and up to about 1,000 students from various universities gathered and took to the streets to vent their displeasure. After a seven hour stand-off the streets were cleared; five students were detained, the injured girl is receiving treatment at a local hospital and six city inspectors were investigated and will receive punishment for actions relating to the incident.
It seems that this week, at least, Germany isn’t the only place to fight the Man. Delving further we discovered that there have long been tensions between the city inspectors and the people they are meant to police, i.e. illegal vendors who sell stuff without the proper licenses. Not surprisingly, despite the pushover rent-a-cop impression they some times give leave on you, these city inspectors actually operate in a shadowy world where there are bribes, violence, and maybe even some lousy sex.
While it is often they who dole out the violence, it’s not unheard of them to be on the receiving end as well, as in the case of one Beijing city inspector who, while struggling against a vendor, got stabbed with a knife in the throat and died not too long thereafter.
Although we support the right to protest, you have to ask yourself in each situation, how many people “rebel” out of principle, hoping their protest as a form of speech and action can contribute and even better the situation, and how many people are there because of a perhaps legitimate but nonetheless inchoate angst against the world and the powers that be? We’re reminded of our own experience in the midst of the Battle of Seattle in 1999, when anti-globalization protests rocked what otherwise staid proceedings of a WTO ministerial conference. We were standing outside a vandalized Niketown, when a man,gesturing to the broken windows and doors, said “dude, let’s get some shoes and clubs!”
As for the Zhengzhou students, well, we don’t begrudge them their anger, and especially not after seeing the picture on the left, from a 2006 job fair in Zhengzhou. The report (in Chinese) states that there were so many people trying to squeeze in the conference center that the escalator (pictured here) was completely deformed and even some of the doors fell off!
Photo from news.163.com