Video of chengguan bully beating and stomping on victim angers Chinese
A video of five chengguan (city management) officers manhandling bicycle vendors has shocked and outraged Chinese netizens, bringing the age-old topic of highly abusive chengguan force back into spotlight.
In the video, a man was knocked down onto the ground by the five chengguan officers in uniform in a violent brawl. One officer then jumped heavily onto his head, a jaw-shopping move that earned him the epithet, “stomping chengguan.” (Jump to 1:10 for a quick view)
A typical chengguan’s job, as its name suggests, includes shutting down unlicensed businesses, clearing unauthorized vehicles and establishments from the streets, supervising sanitation work and pollution control.
Later news reports revealed that the incident took place in Yan’an, northwestern Shaanxi province on May 31. The chengguan squad accused the bicycle store of occupying the pedestrian lane with their display items, and wanted to confiscate the bicycles.
When Mr. Liu, the owner of the bicycle store, tried to dispute the accusation and stop them, two sides got into the violent clash, in which Mr. Liu was stomped on by the chengguan officer and sustained head injury.
Witnesses working at the store and nearby businesses said that at lease one officer smelled strongly of alcohol back then.
The video and pictures of the brawl have been all over the place on Chinese internet, with netizens calling chengguan in general bad names.
Internet personality @zuoyeben wrote on Sina Weibo, the Chinese Twitter, “Then I came to understand Xia Junfeng. This is not called beating. This is called humiliatory battary, temporary attack, voluntary stomping…, law enforcement murder…” His post has been shared more than 65,000 times within 20 hours since its publication Tuesday.
Xia Junfeng is a former food hawker now on death row for killing two chengguan officers in a physical confrontation. Legal experts as well as many ordinary Chinese are campaigning for a retrial of his case out of general sympathy for street vendors who are often vulnerable victims of chengguan’s brutality.
Another Weibo user wrote, “Chengguan is nothing but a dog hired by the state apparatus. Those crazy dogs must be killed. Leaving them alive will only be harmful to the city’s image and people’s lives.”
The local authorities responded in a statement that those officers are only temporary employees and not not officially hired by the state. But most netizens are not buying it and believe it’s a subterfuge used by the authorities to avoid accoutability.
“Their best three defenses for any casualty are: natural disaster, accident, and temporary workers,” one Weibo user commented.