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Tianjin Woman Running Balloon-Shooting Booth Sentenced To 3.5 Years in Prison

The case of a middle-aged woman from Tianjin who has recently been sentenced to 3,5 years in prison for running a balloon-shooting booth has angered Chinese netizens. As many were not aware the airgun game was illegal, some wonder if all Chinese are ‘law-blind’ now.

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The case of a middle-aged woman from Tianjin who has recently been sentenced to 3,5 years in prison for running a balloon-shooting booth has angered Chinese netizens. As many are very familiar with the well-known and innocuous game, some wonder if “all Chinese” are “law-blind” now.

Balloon-shooting is a popular game in China. Recently, however, a middle-aged woman running a balloon-shooting booth in Tianjin was sentenced to prison for the illegal possession of guns.

Zhao Chunhua, a 51-year-old woman, was running a street balloon-shooting booth in Tianjin from August to October 2016 when she was arrested for the “criminal possession of weapons.” On December 27, she was sentenced to 3 years and 6 months in prison.

Upon Zhao’s arrest, the police found 9 gun-shaped objects and plastic bullets in her booth. Investigations revealed that 6 of the balloon “guns” were real airguns capable of shooting metal bullets.

According to Zhao Chunhua’s daughter, however, her mother was unaware of the existence of real airguns. “I’ve been to mother’s booth and I touched those guns… they were just toy guns”, the daughter told Chinese media: “We always thought they were toy guns. If she would have known they were real guns, she would not had even touched them.”

There are many balloon-shooting booths in Tianjin, and it is common practice to use airsoft guns (软气枪) which can only shoot plastic bullets.

Zhao’s balloon-shooting “booth”: a shooting board on a tricycle

Zhao, who is divorced, lived together with her daughter in a 10 square meter room. In August, Zhao bought a “booth” consisting of a tricycle with a shooting board and some small prices, and started her business. Working in the evenings from 20:00 to 24:00, Zhao made around 2000-3000 RMB (±$300-400) per month.

Zhao’s balloon-shooting “booth”: a shooting board on a tricycle.

Zhao’s balloon-shooting “booth”: a shooting board on a tricycle.

In the beginning, Zhao Chunhua refused to appeal her sentence, worrying that hiring a lawyer would cost too much money. But her daughter insisted and has now quit her job to fully concentrate on her mother’s law suit.

Two lawyers, Xu Xin (professor at a Beijing University) and Si Weijiang (Shanghai-based lawyer), have offered to defend Zhao. After communicating with her lawyers, Zhao launched an appeal on January 3rd of this year.

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On social media, Chinese netizens sympathize with Zhao and are furious about the court’s decision. Many believe the punishment is far too harsh for common unknowing citizens.

“Since when did airsoft guns become prohibited? We are probably all ‘law-blind’ now, ” one netizen writes: “I remember a decade ago, balloon-shooting was a really popular game in towns and counties; did they all break the law?”

Many people are especially angered because of another incident, that involved the heartbreaking video of a weeping girl holding her killed dog. The man who shot the dog with an airgun was merely sentenced to six days in prison.

“If an old lady sets up an illegal booth she is sentenced to three years, if a guard kills a dog he is sentenced to six days,” one confused Weibo user said.

Some netizens say that law enforcement is too “blunt”: “This is an apparent case of improper law enforcement,” another netizen comments: “Since the 1960s, balloon-shooting has been legal entertainment in China. It is not illegal unless it causes damage to people. Police can take the illegal guns, and issue a reasonable fine. Talking about lethality, Zhao’s airsoft guns are less dangerous than cooking knives… the court should then arrest everyone with a cooking knife.”

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

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Diandian Guo is a China-born Master student of transdisciplinary and global society, politics & culture at the University of Groningen with a special interest for new media in China. She has a BA in International Relations from Beijing Foreign Language University, and is specialized in China's cultural memory.

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China and Covid19

Anger over Guangzhou Anti-Epidemic Staff Picking Locks, Entering Homes

While these Guangzhou homeowners were quarantined at a hotel, anti-epidemic staff broke their door locks and entered their homes.

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WEIBO SHORT | Weibo Shorts are concise articles on topics that are trending. This article was first published

Dozens of homeowners in Guangzhou, Guangdong, were angered to find out the locks of their apartment doors were broken during their mandatory hotel quarantine.

The residents had gone to a quarantine location after a positive Covid case in their building. Afterward, anti-epidemic staff had entered their homes for disinfection and to check if any residents were still inside.

The incident happened earlier this month in an apartment complex in the Liwan district of the city.

The incident first gained attention on July 10 when various videos showing the broken door locks were posted online. During the morning, the property management had conducted an ’emergency inspection’ of 84 households. The doors were later sealed.

The case went trending again on July 18 when the residential district apologized to all homeowners for the break-ins and promised to compensate them.

“What’s the use of apologizing?” some Weibo commenters wondered. “Where is the law? If this even happens in Guangzhou now and people in Guangdong put up with this, what else will they dare to do in the future?”

On Chinese social media, most comments on the Guangzhou incident were about the break-ins allegedly being unlawful.

Media reporter and Toutiao author Kai Lei (@凯雷), who has over two million followers on Weibo, said the incident showed that those breaking in “had no regard for the law.”

To read more about Covid-19 in China, check our articles here.

By Manya Koetse
With contributions by Miranda Barnes

 

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China Local News

Shanghai Ruijin Hospital Stabbing Incident

The police opened fire and subdued the suspect, who stabbed at least four people at Shanghai’s Ruijin Hospital on Saturday.

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WEIBO SHORT | Weibo Shorts are concise articles on topics that are currently trending. This article was first published

On Saturday July 9, a stabbing incident that occurred at Shanghai’s renowned Ruijin Hospital (上海瑞金医院) shocked Chinese netizens as videos showing the panic and chaos at the scene circulated in Wechat groups and on Weibo.

At around 11:30 AM the police department started receiving calls that there was someone stabbing people at the hospital, which is located in the city’s Huangpu district. At the scene of the incident, at the 7th floor of the outpatient clinic, they found a knife-wielding man holding a group of people hostage.

According to police reports, the police opened fire and subdued the suspect. Four people who were injured during the knife attack are now being treated, none of them are in a life-threatening situation.

The case is currently under investigation.

According to The Paper, Ruijin Hospital resumed its outpatient services at 14:08 this afternoon.

This is the second stabbing incident in Shanghai this week. On Monday, a man was arrested after going on a random stabbing spree in Shanghai’s Jing’an District.

While some Shanghai residents say the recent incidents made them feel less safe, others praise the fast police response to the incident.

One doctor from Shanghai posted on Weibo that hospitals should have proper security checks in place in order to prevent these kinds of incidents from happening again in the future.

By Manya Koetse
With contributions by Miranda Barnes

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