Police trying to maintain order in the wake of Hang Hongqi’s death. Photo from Radio Free Asia.
In Shanghai’s Jiading district (嘉定区) on Thursday afternoon, police clashed with a hundred or so friends, family members and associates of Hang Hongqi (杭红旗), during a funeral rite performed by a Buddhits/Daoist master for the recently deceased on a city street.
He had been beaten to death on Wednesday after he intervened to save his sister, who was being attacked in her home by four migrant workers. The migrants had been hired by the Jiangqiao Town Post Office, and had been going from door-to-door to the homes of different residents, asking each homeowner to sign a pledge that they would abstain from voting in a local election of deputies for the Jiading district congress.
After Hang’s sister Hang Yuexiang refused to sign the slip that declared her abstention from voting, the four men began attacking her, kicking her to the ground and scratching at her hair. Hang then came to his sister’s rescue, only for the men’s focus to turn towards him, while fighting off any of Hang’s neighbors who tried to help.
Hang managed to stand up in an unresponsive state after the beating ended, only for his face to turn pale before he collapsed to the ground.
Funeral interrupted, clash ensues
On Thursday, several of the mourners were taken away by police, with Hang’s father, sister, and brother-in-law eventually becoming prisoners in their own homes (along with seven other neighbors), thanks to a contingency of 50 policemen outside of Hang’s home.
The funeral rite was being performed by a monk of the Buddhist/Daoist tradition, when police arrived at the scene and asked the mourners to move the ritual indoors and out of public view. The mourners refused, leading to a confrontation between the two sides that has yet to be reported in any Chinese-language media outlet based in the mainland.
According to Eastday, residents involved in the ordeal believe they were specifically targeted because they had recently made the mistake of complaining about something:
The victims said they had argued with neighborhood committee officials last month, telling them that they refused to elect any of the district officials to be congress deputies because they were not satisfied with their handling of housing quality problems.
A report by the district’s housing department said the apartments had serious quality problems, and the neighborhood committee had promised to fix them, residents said.
A simple misunderstanding
A female official with the neighborhood committee has declared the whole thing a misunderstanding, saying that residents were ordered to sign their name as a way to “prove they were informed, not to give up the right to vote.” Oh, but of course. We don’t know how that explains why a man had to be killed over a pledge proving how informed voters were, though. Bit of a head-scratcher, that one.
Could this be an omen regarding the future of democracy in China, and perhaps a sign that when the dreaded/glorious day of Liberal Democratic reckoning comes, China simply won’t be “ready” or “mature” enough to handle it?
If that is the case (and we could certainly see how it could be spun that way), it might be wiser for authorities to allow the circulation of this Postmen from Hell story a bit more than they have been doing, to flog the old “China is not ready for democracy” angle. Some certified informed voters out there might believe it, no?