This morning, my wife and I set out to make a trip to the hospital. Because we were in a rush, we decided to rent a sanlunche (motorized tricycle) to take us to the nearest subway station. We hailed one on the main road outside the north gate of our community at about 8:45 am.
Our driver proceeded westbound on Chaoyang Road until reaching the McDonald’s across the north gate of Beijing International Studies University. At the intersection, she turned right onto Dingfuzhang Street and proceeded north toward Dalianpo station on Subway Line 6.
After driving 300 meters, the driver said someone was following her and asked us to pay the fare immediately. The unknown car continued to tailgate us as we passed the nearby Jingkelong, and our driver made a hard right onto a small community road hoping they would give up pursuit.
What happened was the complete opposite.
In less than 50 meters the car flanked us and forced our driver off the road. The sanlunche went up onto two wheels and almost rolled over.
Looking out the window we saw that the car was marked as belonging to the Sanjianfang Town birth control department. Our driver kept shouting at the men to stop following her.
Two young men between the ages of 16 and 19 jumped out of the car brandishing clubs. They were wearing ill-fitting coats that looked like generic ones used by most private security guards.
One man screamed, “Fuck your mother!” and smashed in the right rear window, which was beside me. Glass rained in like powder, with the small bits sticking to my hands and large chunks landing in my shoes and coat pockets.
A moment later, the window on my wife’s side was smashed by another of the men.
Our driver took off again and the men did not pursue. By the time we reached the subway my hands were bleeding in six places.
The driver said the attackers were “black” (gang-related) “chengguan” who are being employed illegally by the Sanjianfang Town government. [Ed's note: chengguan are street-level, often extrajudicial urban management officers who have a reputation for behaving poorly. We can't say for sure the attackers were chengguan, but they were driving a government vehicle.]
When we got on the subway, my wife took a few pictures of the glass, which we were digging out of our pockets, and of my hands, which were still bleeding.
At first I regretted not pulling out my camera to record the incident. In hindsight, had I done so my wife and I would have certainly completed our trip to the hospital – most likely by way of ambulance.
Derrick Sobodash is the deputy editor-in-chief of Beijing Today