By Tom Bannister
Armed anti-government groups? Is this a Gordon Chang dream?
No. It’s a bunch of likely-lads from Shenzhen who paraded in front of assembled reporters dressed as an ‘anti-corruption group’. The group was modelled on the ‘武工队’ (armed working detachment) – communist guerilla units that fought in the second Sino-Japanese war and have since been the focus of various films and TV shows.
The Shenzhen reincarnation – seven middle-to-old aged men with deactivated rifles, one member wearing pink girls sunglasses – said that they were “answering the call to fight corruption”. In contrast, sceptics said it was just a publicity stunt. Regardless of intentions, it was reported widely by state media, the government seemingly fine with the popularisation of armed vigilantism.