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“We Could All Be the Next Lei Yang” – Chinese Netizens on the Lei Yang Case

Some netizens already call it one of the biggest controversies of the year. The death of the 29-year-old environmentalist Lei Yang while in police custody has sparked online outrage, with many connecting this fatality to police brutality. Now Lei’s wife has stepped forward, demanding answers from Beijing authorities on the circumstances surrounding her husband’s death.

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Some netizens already call it one of the biggest controversies of the year. The death of the 29-year-old environmentalist Lei Yang – while in police custody – has sparked online outrage, with many connecting this fatality to police brutality. Now Lei’s wife has stepped forward, demanding answers from Beijing authorities on the circumstances surrounding her husband’s death.

The death of the 29-year-old Beijing resident and environmentalist Lei Yang (雷洋) has sparked national outrage, with many Chinese suspecting that police violence led to his death.

According to police statements, Lei Yang was arrested for visiting a brothel (featured image) and died while resisting his arrest. Camera recordings of his arrest were reportedly unavailable after the police phone device that was used for filming the arrest broke down. But Lei’s family is not satisfied with police reports on the circumstances that led to Lei’s death. Lei just had a baby two weeks earlier and was on the way to the airport to pick up relatives.

581338665853369164CCTV interviewing Lei’s family.

The wife of Lei Yang headed to Beijing’s prosecutor’s office with her lawyer on Tuesday, May 17, demanding further investigation into her husband’s death. She also filed a complaint for abuse of power, forgery of evidence, and physical assault. According to the complaint report that circulated on Chinese social media, she alleges that the prostitution story was a setup and that her husband was beaten to death.

Lei Yang Incident

At around 9.00 pm on Saturday night, May 7 2016, Lei Yang left home to pick up some relatives from Beijing airport who came to visit from Hunan to see Lei’s newborn baby girl. On the way to the airport, somewhere between 21:04 and 21:16, Lei arrived near the location of a foot massage parlor, coming from Longjin 3rd Street (these two places and exact times were confirmed through monitoring data according to a Chinese newsblog).

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It was within this time frame that Lei was arrested by 5-6 plainclothes officers, allegedly for purchasing sexual services. Shanghai Daily reports that several witnesses saw Lei running from the undercover policemen and screaming for help immediately before his arrest.

According to one officer, Lei had “stopped resisting and was very quiet” in the car on the way to the police station. About 50 minutes after Lei was taken to the Changping district police station, he was rushed to a nearby hospital. Within two hours after his arrest, at 22:55, Lei was pronounced dead.

Family members were notified of Lei’s death at 1:00 am. According to family members who could see Lei’s body under police supervision, he was bruised on his head and arms, and also had other injuries. According to SCMP, they were not allowed to take pictures of the body.

Police state that no excessive force was used during Lei’s arrest, and that DNA evidence from a condom suggests that Lei indeed visited the brothel.

“Sudden death of suspect”

The Changping police station has responded to the incident through its official Weibo account, where they released an offical statement on May 9 and May 11 on the “sudden death of a suspect for prostitution”.

According to the police statement, undercover officers went to the massage parlor after getting a tip about prostitution activities and caught five men visiting prostitutes at the scene. The statement then says that one of suspects, Lei Yang, violently resisted his arrest and bit one of the policemen. During the course of this struggle, the camera equipment of the officer fell and broke. In the car on the way to the police station, Lei allegedly tried to kick the driver and attempted to escape, and had to be controlled and restrained with handcuffs. When the police later discovered his body was lifeless, Lei was taken to the hospital.

This police statement shows much resemblance to a similar case that took place in the Netherlands in 2015 when an Arubian man died during a violent police arrest. Although local police initially stated the man lost consciousness in the car on the way to the station, bystander footage later showed the man already was unconscious during his arrest (story and video).

The Changping police statements on Weibo received over 32.800 comments, with many netizens pleading for evidence.

Social media reactions

The Lei Yang incident has drawn much controversy on Chinese social media for the past week, with many netizens arguing for a thorough investigation of the case. Some Weibo users complained that their posts about the issue were being deleted by censors.

One netizen called Mr. Lu says: “I don’t care if this gets censored, but since Lei Yang’s wife and her lawyer have taken action, you hear all kinds of things coming from the police about visiting prostitutes so and so, but the fact remains that he died. No matter what crime he committed, this family has the right to call his death into question, and we support this right!”

Some netizens stress the importance of this case: “The Lei Yang Case is already the most important incident of 2016. For the people, for the government, for the police, for the media, and for lawmakers.”

There are also netizens who do not find Lei’s death suspicious: “Why is his sudden death so unlikely?” one netizen wonders: “There are people suddenly dying every day, why could this not be the case now?”

Although it is unsure what exactly happened on May 7, most netizens just want to know the truth: “Without investigation, there is no truth. Without the truth, we could be the next Lei Yang.”

“We are angry and scared because we all could be the next Lei Yang,” another Weibo user says: “We follow this case because of our sense of justice, but also because we’re afraid and angry. In a society without respect for life and no dignity and human rights, we could all be led to our death by police – whether we’re visiting a prostitute or not.”

A Shaanxi public security bureau also responded to the case through their Weibo account, saying: “There are many people online who call the voice of the police into question. As colleagues of the Changping police, we analyze this case from a legal and objective point of view, and we will fight back rumors.”

In the meantime, China Daily reports that an autopsy on Lei’s body has been carried out, and that results are expected to be released within 20 days.

– By Manya Koetse

©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China and Covid19

Tianjin Students Find All Their Belongings Thrown Out After Dorm Turns Into Covid19 Quarantine Site

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Tianjin students expressed anger and disbelief online after their school dormitories became local Covid19 quarantine sites and their belonging were tossed out.

Since earlier this month, Tianjin has been fighting a Covid outbreak. On January 9, the city of 14 million residents started citywide nucleic acid testing after twenty people tested positive for Covid19, including at least two Omicron infections. The city, facing the country’s first Omicron outbreak, then entered a partial lockdown.

In the January 8-January 16 period, Tianjin registered a total of 294 new cases, with an additional 18 cases being reported on Monday.

One of the important measures in China’s battle against Covid19 is the preventive quarantine in centralized locations of nearby or close contacts of Covid19 cases. In Tianjin, these ‘close contacts’ are mainly located in Jinnan district, where 94 percent of the city’s reported cases were detected. The city has numerous quarantine locations scattered throughout the city.

Recently, students of various schools in Tianjin, including the Tianjin College of the University of Science & Technology Beijing (北京科技大学天津学院) and the Pearl River College at the Tianjin University of Finance and Economics (天津财经大学珠江学院), were notified that their dorm buildings would temporarily be used as local quarantine sites. The two schools are located very near to each other in Jingjin New Town, located in Baodi District, approximately 45 km from Tianjin.

Although many students said that they were fine with their dorms being used as quarantine sites while they were away – the winter school holiday ends on February 21st -, they were shocked and furious to discover their belongings were thrown out in trash bags.

Videos and photos of staff emptying out the dorm rooms and throwing personal belongings out of the windows triggered controversy on social media on January 18: “For what reason was our stuff dealt with this way? Is this what they meant when they promised us they would keep our belongings safe?”

“It’s not unreasonable for the dorms to be used in this way in times of epidemic,” one commenter wrote: “But at the very minimum there should be a basic understanding that students’ personal belonging can’t just be thrown away?!”

“What kind of university can’t even keep its students’ property safe?” others wondered, with one female student writing: “We support our dorms being used as quarantine locations, but why do you completely disregard our property, our personal rights, our right to know, etc.? If you had properly taken care of our belongings, we wouldn’t even have said anything! We already lowered our bottom line! We’ve already made concessions from the moment you pried open our locks! Look at your staff, they’re playing dumb. You haven’t even given us a rational explanation.”

Another angry student writes: “When people asked me where I studied, I already felt reluctant to say [Pearl River College at the Tianjin University of Finance and Economics], and I’d just tell them I study in Baodi District. Now I definitely don’t want to tell people where I study anymore. Pearl River College, you are heartless!”

On Weibo, students complain that their clothes, shoes, makeup, computers, and other property have allegedly been taken away and thrown outside in bags by the people preparing the dorm location. At the time of writing, it is still unclear where the students’ belongings currently are and whether or not the school will compensate those affected for the items that might be damaged or lost.

Many others on social media also sympathize with the students, saying the epidemic cannot be used as an excuse for staff to treat personal belongings in such a disrespectful way.

Update January 19:

The Pearl River College has issued an apology to its students on January 19, suggesting that the process of emptying and cleaning the premises needed to be done in a hurry, leading to students’ belongings not being handled as they should have been handled.

Many students expressed that they did not appreciate the apology: “What’s the point of this apology? What about the things we spent our money on? You need to be realistic and give compensation.”

Meanwhile, the Tianjin College of the University of Science & Technology still has not responded to the online commotion. Some students do not seem to care about an apology: “I just want to know where my things are.”

By Manya Koetse

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©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Local News

Disgruntled Woman Cuts Up 32 Wedding Dresses in Chongqing Bridal Salon

The woman ruined 32 wedding dresses – worth at least $11,000 – because she wanted her $550 deposit back.

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On January 9, an argument between a female customer and a bridal store staff member escalated when the angry customer took out scissors and ruined more a total of 32 wedding dresses by cutting them up.

A video of the incident went viral on Chinese social media, showing the woman taking out wedding gown after wedding gown and cutting them with scissors. The person filming can be heard saying “Think clearly, these dresses cost thousands [yuan],” with the woman responding: “Thousands? Even it’s ten-thousands, it doesn’t matter.”

The incident happened in the city’s Jiangjin District at a store that sells bridal gowns and also offers wedding services. According to Chinese media site Sohu.com, the wedding store manager told reporters that the woman named Jiang first made arrangements with the bridal salon in April 2021 for her October 5th wedding – she booked a wedding package for 8000 yuan ($1260).

Four months later, in August, the woman asked the bridal shop if her wedding arrangements could be postponed. When the woman came to the shop again in November, saying she wanted to cancel all arrangements and get her down payment of 3500 yuan ($550) back, the shop refused due to their policy of not refunding advanced payments. They did offer to instead provide some arrangements for a child’s 100th-day celebration, as the woman was allegedly expecting a baby.

Although the woman initially agreed with this, she suddenly returned to the shop on January 9th and started acting out. In her anger, she proceeded to ruin 32 wedding dresses. The woman was taken away by the police after the shop assistant alerted them and was detained. She has since said she is sorry for her behavior.

According to the shop owner, the woman’s husband offered to compensate the store for over 60,000 yuan ($9420), but he has not paid a penny yet. The woman allegedly ruined 32 dresses with a total worth of at least 70,000 yuan ($11,000).

On Weibo, thousands of commenters have responded to the incident.

“What on earth was she thinking?” some write, with others saying that the woman should be held criminally liable for her acts and deserves a prison sentence. Others argued that pregnancy hormones could be blamed for the woman’s unreasonable behavior, and said the woman should no go to prison but stay home and rest instead. There was one thing virtually all commenters agreed on, which is that the shop should soon be fully compensated for all damages.

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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