I spend a lot of time praising Asia as a wonderful place to live.
Bear in mind that not all places in Asia are equally paradisiacal.
As Shanghaiist reports, 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. Given the following images ofcivilian retribution; is it any wonder, the powers that be in China fear social unrest?
[Background: Chengguan is a name given to the City Urban Administrative and Law Enforcement Bureau, a municipality police that exists in every Chinese city. Chengguan are notorious for their brutality and generally hated far and wide for it. Their purpose is to enforce municipal bylaws, but they like to resort to violence and often use it against those with no means to fight back.]
The incident began…
Recently, a man noticed Chengguan abuse a local female vendor in Cangnan County of Wenzhou City, Zhejiang Province, and pulled out his cell phone camera to document their notorious brutality.
Chengguan didn’t like it and since they enjoy almost limitless impunity, they had the man hit in the head with a hammer.
The man was taken to a hospital where he succumbed the following day.
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.
But this is not the first time…
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.
This is the inevitable consequence of letting the public to lose faith in the law enforcement and the justice system, especially when dealing with wrongdoings of government officials. There are other nations headed down the same path.
While I am on the topic of physical violence in the PRC, I should mention that the post at:
directed me to
A Chinese man whose arms were bound so tightly in an illegal prison that his skin and flesh grew around the chains, is now looking for donations to help pay for surgery to remove the chains.
Zhang Chuanqiu, 27, was chained to cowshed by village officials in 2005 in Hunan, southern China, over a loan dispute to build his house.
Zhang told the press how his mother was the only person who didn’t give up on him during his incarceration.
With watchful eyes on Zhang, his mother had to carefully plan and wait for the right time before she could help her son break out.
When the time finally came, the two successfully escaped and found refuge with a poor family who offered them a place to stay. Chen Zuheng, the villager who took them in told the Austrian Times:
“Zhang and his mother appeared at our door to beg for food. I looked at Zhang’s hands. There was puss coming out of the wounds and there was chains in his wrists. It was a terrible sight.” [Austrian Times]
Surgeons have told Zhang that it will cost 1,000 GBP to have the chains removed. Zhang explained how the chains caused him extreme pain, and how he hoped that the good will of others would save his hands:
“They are always inflamed and ooze pus all the time. But we have no money so I have to rely on charity or the good heart of a hospital or doctor to save my hands.”
A fifth of China’s farmland is polluted, according to an offical report based on the results of an extensive survey.
Soil pollution has long been a concern in China due to the country’s rapid industrialisation and the report carried on the website of the Ministry of Environmental Protection confirms the extent of the problem. The report states that pollutants in more than 16% of Chinese soil exceeds national standards and that figure rises to 20% for arable land.
It describes the situation as “not optimistic” and said said that the quality of farmland is worrying while deserted industrial and mining land is seriously polluted. The main causes of soil pollution are industry and agriculture, according to the report. Cadmium, nickel and arsenic are the top three pollutants found.
The survey was carried out over seven years, ending in December 2013 and covered around 630 square kilometers of land across the country. According to state media, the survey took around 100,000 samples. Almost 70% of the samples were found to be “lightly polluted” with pollution levels twice the national standard. Around 7% were found to be “heavily polluted” with levels more than five times the national standard.
Most of the affected farmland lies along the eastern coast which is the most developed region and home to much of the country’s heavy industry. Heavy metal pollution was particularly bad in the southwest of the country, the report found.
It is not immediately clear if the survey the report is based on is linked to a nationwide survey that was thought to have ended in 2010 and which was deemed to be a “state secret”. Beijing-based lawyer Dong Zhengwei requested the findings of a study but was told by the ministry that it would only release a few details and that the full report was a state secret.
China’s air pollution problems have made headlines worldwide, however soil pollution is less visible has received a lot less attention. But it has previously been estimated that it could be a bigger problem than either air or water pollution, with impacts on public health and food production.
In January, an agriculture official admitted that millions of hectares of farmland could be withdrawn from production because of severe pollution by heavy metals. And last December the vice minister of land and resources estimated that 3.3 million hectares of land is polluted, mostly in gain producing regions.
Last year the government admitted to the existence of cancer villages, areas where cancer rates have risen dramatically due to high pollution levels, usually from nearby heavy industrial plants.
There has been increasing pressure on the government to release accurate and up-to-date data on pollution. Public pressure has led to the government to publish air pollution data online so residents in affected cities can take precautionary measures such as wearing face masks.