Early Saturday evening, a homemade explosive went off in Beijing Capital Airport’s Terminal 3 arrivals building, briefly causing chaos at the international airport. The device used black gunpowder, which was used to make a firecracker-like explosion. Now, more details are emerging about the man who detonated the explosive: 34-year-old, wheelchair-bound Ji Zhongxing.
State media Global Times reported after the incident that Ji, originally from Heze, located in the coastal province of Shandong, was stopped by airport officials from handing out leaflets about a prior injury that resulted in paralysis and left him permanently in a wheelchair. After having a verbal altercation with airport officials who were stopping him from distributing the material, Ji detonated the explosive. Ji was rushed to a hospital and was the only injury from the explosion, suffering a hand amputation below the wrist. A nearby policeman was also reported to have sustained minor injuries as well.
According to a blog discovered online, believed to be written by Ji, a detailed description of an incident between local “chengguan” that occurred while he was working as an unlicensed motorcycle taxi driver in 2005 to earn extra money is what left him paralyzed from the waist down. "Chengguan" are employees of city administrations charged with enforcing rules, who are often involved in public confrontations due to their main role, removing unlicensed street vendors. They are known to use violent tactics.
Though his blog has since been deleted, The Shanghaiist, a China-based news blog, had a translation of an excerpt of his post describing his injuries. Ji says that he and his passenger were beat up -- unprovoked, according to his account -- by several officers using steel pipes. “I saw there were seven or eight chengguan blocking the road, holding steel rods and pipes. Just as I was about to brake, a chengguan threw one of the steel pipes across my face, throwing both myself and my passenger on the floor,” Ji wrote online, saying he was struck in the legs, feet and waist until he was unconscious. Later, hoping to seek damages, Ji said the chengguan had disappeared.
“I am festering away, paralyzed and over 100,000 yuan in debt. Our family have suffered an unimaginable fate… The only thing that’s keeping me going is the thought of seeking justice,” Ji said on his blog. As a result, Ji is looking for justice in the form of money, to help him with various medical costs. A post on his blog revealed he had submitted an administrative compensation letter requesting 334,782 yuan, plus 20 years of salary.
Local governments in Shandong Province, Ji’s hometown, and Guangdong Province, where he was working at the time of the attack, have released separate by contradicting statements yesterday in reference to Ji’s claims. The report from his hometown confirmed his claims, saying he was beaten and offered subsidies after the incident. The other report however stated that Ji “collided with the officers, fell down and got injured” adding that there was no evidence of beating during the investigation. Now further investigations are being arranged for the case following the airport explosion.
This has created a stir online, with many worried that acts of terrorism to draw attention to petitioning and injustices could become a trend. Many online, though still expressing sympathy for the injustice that occurred, are pointing to a bus explosion that occurred earlier this summer, claiming the lives of 48 people, including Chen Shuizong, the man who reportedly lit the bus on fire because of problems he had petitioning.
“China is now in a developing period. There are inevitably many contradictions in the society. However, extreme behaviors like setting off explosions in public places are meaningless. They will hurt innocent people and cause public disarray,” the state-run Beijing Times wrote in an editorial. “The government should listen to people’s voices at the beginning of any dispute, and try to solve them in a fair and rational way under the law, which could prevent tragedies like Ji's early on."