Chinese netizens eager to let out their anger and upset at the government are getting new fuel to fan the flames of discontent.
A video making the rounds on Chinese social media networks, video hosting sites, and now also catching the attention of official state-owned media is adding another stain to the already low reputation of local government officials.
The video shows a young woman standing outside a government building, later confronted by a large group of men dressed in dark pants and short sleeved white shirts (stereotypical of male office attire for China). One of the men confronting her proceeds to not only slap her face, but later push and beat her, and eventually kicks her to the ground. The entire course of events is watched from a distance by a young boy also brought to the building by the woman, who is thought to be her young son.
Netizens originally identified the assailant as Liu Wenhe, the Deputy Party Secretary of the town of Botou (32,000 people), in Zhanhua County, a jurisdiction of the city of Binzhou in China's eastern Shandong province. These claims were later verified by reports from China's state-owned Xinhua News.
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The video, posted to Tencent, can be seen below:
The colleagues of the man who were gathered on the scene did nothing to restrain him.
The young woman attacked in the video had apparently angered Liu by picking flowers from the grounds of the local government municipal building. On an earlier occasion, when she had picked flowers on the government building's grounds, she was fined 1,000 yuan (almost $160) for damaging public facilities. In this instance, she had returned to the town's government offices to dispute the charge.
Xinhua says that the local government first moved for Liu to be suspended and investigated by the party's internal organization. The 1,000 yuan fine was later returned to the woman. According to Xinhua, Liu was dismissed from his official positions within the party by September 12.
That did little to assuage netizens, who offered a flurry of insults against the attacker:
A comment on popular web forum NetEase noted: "Dismissed from posts? Why wasn't he kicked out of the party?"
One respondent to the video posted onto Tencent said "Really losing face for the Communist Party! Can we really rely on people like this?"
Another replied, "Officials like this are common, no need to be shocked."
"A group of well-dressed men, ganging up on a woman... what kind of low behavior is that?" asked another commenter.