A riot involving around 1,000 people broke out last Saturday in Cangnan county of Wenzhou city, Zhejiang province, resulting in the hospitalization of five chengguan, China’s notoriously abusive and under-regulated urban enforcement officials. The alleged cause for the riots was the five’s brutally killing a civilian. According to reports, the chengguan “hit the man with a hammer until he started to vomit blood, because he was trying to take pictures of their violence towards a woman, a street vendor.” This man later died while being rushed to the hospital.
This man was reportedly beat with a hammer by chengguan until he threw up blood.
The following report by SCMP describes what happened immediately after the five’s act of violence:
“Angered by their violence, the crowd surrounded the officials and prevented them from leaving the scene. The tension further increased after internet rumours [sic] began circulating that they had beaten an onlooker to death.
Eventually the officials were forced to seek refuge in a van, according to eyewitnesses at the scene. Members of the crowd carrying sticks and stones then smashed the van and assaulted them through windows, they told South Metropolis Daily.”
According to eyewitness accounts, the crowd — which was growing at an alarmingly rapid pace — was shouting for the chengguan to be murdered on the spot for what they did, yelling: “Kill them! Kill them!” They proceeded to beat the five until they were bloodied and unconscious, and later collectively tipped over the ambulance that had arrived to provide medical treatment.
State-run Cangnan Newsreports that later on, more than 100 riot police were dispatched to disperse the crowds at around 4pm, with more than 10 onlookers arrested in connection with inciting the riots.
There are still disagreements amongst media sources regarding the extent of the chengguans’ injuries: Revolution News reported that the chengguan were all beaten to death, while SCMP went with the announcement on the Cangnan county government’s official news outlet, which said that by Saturday evening “two of the injured remained in a critical condition while a further three who suffered minor wounds received treatment.”
Naturally, photographs of the mass disturbance immediately began popping up on Weibo and other social media outlets: They showcase a very brutal scene of bloodied chengguan lying limp both inside and outside the destroyed ambulance as the frenzied crowd looks onwards.
This incident is yet another chapter in the seemingly endless saga of both chengguan brutality and corresponding civilian backlashes: The sentencing of just a few years in prison to four chengguan who collectively killed a watermelon vender in July 2013 incited widespread protests on Weibo, while a villager poured sulfuric acid on 18 chengguan in Xiamen just a few months prior. Just one month before the Xiamen incident, the execution of street vendor Xia Junfeng for killing two chengguan also sparked public outrage, with netizens comparing the severity of Xia’s sentencing with the arguably unfairly lenient suspended death sentence of Gu Kailai for confessing to the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood.
Duan Xingyan, a Weibo user who identified himself as a police officer made the following comment: “Such tragedies have happened again and again in recent years…The root reason is the severe lack of rule of law in our society.”
Warning: The following images are extremely graphic
By Alex Stevens
[Images: Weibo via Revolution-News.com]