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.
The Global Times recently published an editorial titled, "What if Chinese police beat a jaywalker?" covering the recent case of a Chinese man allegedly beaten by police for resisting arrest after jaywalking in New York.
So, who wants to be a chengguan?
chinaSMACK reports via Beijing Times that 19 chengguan in Xiamen, Fujian province were victims of a sulfuric acid attack on October 16, with 18 of them needing hospital treatment.
A new set of regulations called the "Guangzhou Metropolitan Comprehensive Law Enforcement Work Standards" went into effect on Tuesday, essentially forcing chengguan -- urban management officers -- to be congenial. As Danwei reports, the law "state[s] clearly that chengguan may not use profane or threatening language while enforcing their duties, may not damage private property, and may not use any form of violence or intimidation," and "to use words like 'please,' 'thank you' and 'I’m sorry.'”
In a story that would make researchers of the Stanford prison experiment proud, on September 20 in a village in Anhui, a 15-year-old surnamed Pan found keys inside an urban management official's car -- a chengguan's vehicle -- hopped in, and almost instantly began trying to enforce the "law" as chengguan would.
“I won’t comply!”
Those were reportedly the last words of Xia Junfeng, a street vendor who ran a kebab stall in Shenyang, Liaoning province, just before his excution on Wednesday. Four years ago, in what he insisted was an act of self-defense, Xia stabbed to death two urban city management enforcement officers -- chengguan -- and wounded another. Most Chinese, including many law professionals, believed Xia should have been charged with "excessive defense," but after four years of appeals, the Supreme Court finally approved his death sentence.
According to the video description, as brought to us by chinaSMACK, urban management officers in Qingdao, Shandong province attempted to demolish the guard room of a "military compound" on the afternoon of September 4. They were met with resistance, as guards and -- reportedly, though this is disputed -- actual soldiers came out looking for -- and getting; this part is not disputed -- a fight.
Iron Mike Tyson, former heavyweight champion of the boxing world, registered a verified Sina Weibo account on Monday, and four posts later, he's already hitting all the right spots. Check out his most recent message:
According to the description on a video recently posted to Youku and translated by chinaSMACK, a street peddler was recently beaten up by uniformed staff from the Shichahai Integrated Management Office in front of his nine-year-old daughter, whose pleas of “Stop beating my daddy,” “I’m begging you,” “We’re sorry,” and “You can go ahead and take the stuff,” were ignored.
Deng Zhengjia, a fruit vendor, died suspiciously on Wednesday after scuffling with chengguan, i.e. this country's much-maligned urban management officers. His family claims he was killed after a blow to the head by an officer -- a charge that chengguan denied yesterday. Reports Global Times:
The more of China you see, the more you understand to not take things at face value. But not knowing a thing about the lead-up to this brawl in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province on Monday -- maybe the villagers were being really annoying, I dunno -- we wonder: how big is the budget for chengguan at this place? I see several dozen of them on the scene, fighting about, oh, six to eight people. (We're not completely sure what's up with the uniformed men in white hard-hats. The Youku description says there were 50 to 60 chengguan.) One villager gets stomped while he's already down.
The death of a watermelon farmer in Chenzhou City, Linwu county, Hunan province attracted the attention of authorities because of the suspicious nature of his death -- beaten, it seemed. But after an investigation, authorities concluded that chengguan did not have a role in the man's death, a result that enraged the farmer's family.
The latest case of chengguan violence comes from Ganzhou, Jiangxi province, where officers reportedly beat up the boss of a restaurant and his family and acquaintances.
On June 9, after a meal, chengguan went to the parking lot and found a car blocking its way. They demanded that the vehicle be moved "within three seconds." The restaurant's boss came out, but unable to move the car within three seconds, he suffered a beatdown.
Even while bashing the institution of urban management and enforcement -- so neatly summed up in one word, chengguan -- we acknowledge that the officers tasked with urban bureaucracy -- keeping street peddlers X meters away from the curb, making sure businesses have proper licenses, etc. -- do unenviable and difficult work. Keeping in mind that every time we see a video of chengguan beating the snot out of someone, the chengguan have their side of the story, too (and their side of the story probably has another side as well), let's examine one particular case from a few weeks ago in Yan'an, Shaanxi province, featuring a chengguan jumping on the face of a bike shop owner who was wrestled to the ground.
On the afternoon of May 31, chengguan in Yan'an, Shaanxi province reportedly got into a scuffle with merchants. The video that was posted to Youku shows the civilian eventually being surrounded by urban management officers, with one particular chengguan -- the fat one, natch -- delivering a terrifying two-footed stomp on his head. Witnesses say the chengguan smelled like he was drunk.
Chengguan are not technically police officers, but out in the streets, their word is law. Today, we got a sobering reminder of that in Beijing. As reported by That’s Beijing, “around 30 to 50 chengguan, along with 20 xieguan officers (‘associate management,’ a force subordinate to chengguan – essentially, hired muscle) blocked off Xuezuo Hutong behind Zhangzizhonglu subway station, allowing... Read more »
On Friday, street enforcement officers of Huangshi, Hubei province entered a convenience store and began confiscating goods -- it's what chengguan do -- but before they could finish, local townsfolk decided they'd seen enough. In the ensuing scuffle, chengguan were subject to verbal abuse, followed by phsyical contact. It wasn't pretty for anyone, as you can see.
Chengguan, those salt of the earth, are pushing back against negative public perceptions of their profession. One particular urban law enforcement officer in Changzhou, Jiangsu province, Jiang Yifan, created the above video recently to "clear up some misunderstandings," as Danwei's Barry van Wyk writes. A couple of things though: