A Bad Day For Nanjing’s Street Enforcement Officers

by The China Watch on June 28, 2012

We’ve documented here that chengguan — China’s urban management/street enforcement officers — are not generally favored by the people. You might think it unfair to call them street thugs, but that’s the reputation they’ve built for themselves, and while some chengguan, surely, are decent, it’s unfortunate that it will almost always be the bad apples who make the news.

Take these three incidents from Nanjing on Tuesday.

We’ll start with the above picture, posted yesterday to Sina Weibo before being picked up by news media. According to most accounts, trouble escalated when a barbecue vendor pulled out a knife and began waving it at chengguan who, presumably, wanted him to vacate the premises. After a small scuffle, the chengguan subdued the man, and an officer stepped on his neck. Just at that instant, a passerby snapped a photo.

So how do the people view this incident? The officer was obviously acting in self-defense, right?

The top comment on this Sina Weibo post:

Lin家的carrie: Chenguan are equivalent to Japanese Devils.

Ouch.

I’m going to cherry-pick a bit, but these three comments are all from the first page:

红胡子的老人0213: This is China’s specialty, no reason to be surprised.

时装_礼服: Using them [chengguan], we’re sure to take back the Huangyan Islands.

星光灿灿1990: SB chengguan. [SB is "stupid cunt"]

Of course, some netizens do point out that using a knife to resist law enforcement is probably not the best move. But the tone leans toward sympathy for the vendor. There is a sense that the weakest among us, society’s disenfranchised and voiceless, deserve better. It’s a sentiment that runs through the comment sections of many such stories here, often accompanied with anger. People don’t like to see others trampled upon, and fair or not, the image of a street merchant lying on the ground with a foot to his neck reinforces every negative perception of authority figures in this country.

According to Jiangsu News (video), the offending chengguan, surnamed Chen, has been suspended and docked bonus pay.

Source: Beijing Cream

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