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Death of Policeman Draws Big Controversy: The Zhang Jiyong Case

The mysterious death of police officer Zhang Jiyong (张际勇) has caused a clamor of rumors growing on Chinese social media, with thousands of people questioning his cause of death. This is the second time this month that lack of transparency in the police force and failures in criminal investigation become the focus of public attention.

Manya Koetse

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The mysterious death of police officer Zhang Jiyong (张际勇) has caused a clamor of rumors growing on Chinese social media, with thousands of people questioning his cause of death. This is the second time this month that lack of transparency in the police force and failures in criminal investigation become the focus of public attention.

Zhang Jiyong (张际勇), a 34-year-old traffic police officer from Jiangsu province, suddenly disappeared while on duty on May 17. After being missing for 64 hours, his dead body was found in a nearby river on May 20.

His wife turned to social media to bring her husband’s case to the public’s attention, posting her story and pictures of her deceased husband’s face. Since his face showed traces of blood, severe bruisings and swellings, she alleges her husband was beaten to death [picture link, warning: death, shocking image].

But according to police and medical experts, Zhang died from drowning and there were no signs of homicide – pointing to suicide.

According to iFeng news, Zhang’s wife denies her husband was suffering from any kind of depression or other mental disorder that could have been related to his death.

Under the hashtag of ‘The Wife of Murdered Civil Policeman Zhang Jiyong’ (#遇害民警张际勇妻子#), netizens called on Weibo users to make this topic trending to help Zhang’s wife in her struggle to “find justice”. It hit the number one spot in Weibo’s trending topics list on May 24.

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The case has caused a clamor of rumors growing on Chinese social media, with some linking his death to his involvement in exposing a drugs crime; according to several Chinese media, Zhang’s wife stated that her husband spoke of ‘being followed’ and fearing for his life two days prior to his missing in relation to this drugs investigation.

There are also netizens alleging that Zhang’s hands were tied together when his body was recovered from the water (picture), and that suicide would thus be impossible.

Mostly, the case unleashed a storm of criticism from Chinese netizens about a lack of transparency in the police force and failures in criminal investigation.

Earlier this month, the curious death of Lei Yang also became big news. Lei Yang was a young man from Beijing who died after he was arrested for allegedly visiting a brothel. His wife also demanded that police further investigated this case, as she alleged her husband was beaten to death during his arrest. This case resonates with that of Zhang Jiyong, where netizens and relatives also ask for further investigation into the case.

 

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Zhang’s wife writes on her Weibo account (May 24):

zhangjiyong

“You all say Zhang Jiyong had mental problems, but you were with him at work on the night of the crime, and you’ve confirmed that he acted normal, and that there were no abnormalities up to his death. Yet you give a mental illness as the final conlusion. How can you, as law enforcement, make such logic errors? I ask a public apology from you. And if you won’t apologize, I ask that you come up with evidence for the claim that Zhang was suffering from mental problems. As a family member of the deceased, I have the right to defend Zhang Jiyong’s integrity and honor!”

Within 5 hours of posting, her Weibo post received over 9500 likes, 7500 comments and was shared more than 2400 times.

Except for anger about information lacking, as in the Lei Yang case, netizens are also angry about their comments being deleted by censors. As one popular comment says:

“I think I speak for everyone when I ask: why are our comments being removed? (..) A good policeman was killed, his hands were tied when his body was found, yet the officials still say it is suicide, do you think people are stupid? ? If you have a soul, then why delete our comments? We love our country, let our country love us back!”

For now, since officials have ruled out homicide and have concluded Zhang’s death to be due to ‘death by drowning’, there are no indications that the police will seek for any possible suspects in this case. According to local police, the blood and swellings in Zhang’s face were a “natural reaction” of the body after being in the water for a long time.

But on Weibo, the clamor is not gone yet, with many netizens refusing to believe official reports. As one netizen comments: “We know they are lying, and they know they are lying, and they know we know they are lying, and we know they know we know they are lying – but they are still lying.”

– 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 Health & Science

No Need for Plague Panic? China’s Trending Plague Outbreak

After the Year of the Pig brought swine flue, some fear the Year of the Rat will bring the ‘rat plague.’

Manya Koetse

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For the past nine days, during which three cases of the plague have been reported in China, the deadly bubonic plague has become a hot topic on Chinese social media.

The topic first made headlines on November 12, when Chinese state media announced that two people, a husband and wife from Inner Mongolia, were transported to Beijing’s Chaoyang Hospital for treatment after being diagnosed with the pneumonic plague.

The couple reportedly got sick after eating raw marmot kidney.

A 55-year old hunter from the same region, the Inner Mongolian Xilingol League, was later also diagnosed with bubonic plague after eating wild rabbit meat.

The bubonic plague, also called the ‘Black Death,’ is an infectious disease that is known to have caused one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, killing millions of people in 14th century Europe.

News of the three cases of bubonic plague reminded many of the 2003 SARS panic; an outbreak of SARS in southern China caused over 8000 cases that year.

The World Health Organisation criticized China at the time for covering up the scale of the problem, with officials conceding in the Spring of 2003 that China’s SARs problem was “nearly 10 times worse than had been admitted.”

Current online reports on the bubonic plague in China stress that there is no reason for panic, with a hospital spokesperson confirming that the situation is “under control.”

42 people who are known to have come into contact with the Chinese patients have all been quarantined and were not found to have any symptoms of catching the disease.

Chinese (state) media channels are spreading social media posts this week that mainly emphasize that the plague “can be prevented, controlled, and managed,” and that it can be effectively treated.

“Don’t panic over plague outbreak,” Sina News headlines, with People’s Daily posting on Weibo that, according to the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “there is no need to worry.”

The bubonic plague primarily affects rodents and other animals, with animals – and incidentally humans – usually contracting the infection through insects such as (rat) fleas. This form of plague is highly contagious – can spread through coughing – and could be fatal within days if left untreated (Benedict 1996, 4).

Mammals such as rabbits or marmots, as eaten by the recent Chinese patients, but also rats, squirrels, gerbils, mice, etc., can all harbor the disease.

Although the disease is increasingly rare, and for many is something from the history books, there were still 3248 cases worldwide between 2010 and 2015, leading to 584 deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

Although Chinese media stress that there is no need to panic over the recent outbreak of the bubonic plague, many netizens still fear an epidemic, making comments such as: “The Year of the Pig brought the [African] swine fever, now the plague is starting just before the Year of the Rat!” (The word for ‘plague’ in Chinese is 鼠疫 shǔyì, literally meaning ‘rat plague’ or ‘mouse plague’).

Others are asking questions such as: “Do we risk the plague more if we have mice in the house?” and “How can we prevent getting it?”

Meanwhile, according to Jiemian News reports, the area in Inner Mongolia where the patients originally contracted the illness is currently under strict control by the Ministries of Health and Agriculture; some roads are closed off, and there’s temperature screening for those taking public transport.

The area has seen four cases of plague over the past decades, the most recent one before this month being in 2004.

Last news on the current three patients was from last Saturday, when it was reported that at least one of the patients is now in stable condition.

By Manya Koetse
Follow @whatsonweibo

References

Benedict, Carol Ann. 1996. Bubonic Plague in Nineteenth Plague in Nineteenth Century China. Stanford University Press.

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China Books & Literature

“The End of an Era”? – Beijing Bookworm Closes Its Doors

Manya Koetse

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As news of The Bookworm’s closing makes its rounds on social media, Beijingers have responded in shock, mourning the loss of an iconic and meaningful meeting place for book(worm) lovers around the city.

The Bookworm Beijing, at Nansanlitun Road, is a bookshop, library, bar, restaurant and events space that has become a center of cultural exchange for Beijing’s foreign community since 2005.

The location is a beating heart of Beijing’s literary world; a place where writers, journalists, students, diplomats, academics, and all kinds of people – both foreign and Chinese – come together to exchange knowledge, read, and sit down for a glass of wine.

Today, the Bookworm announced its sudden closure via WeChat, writing:

It is with heavy hearts that we are forced to announce the impending closure of The Bookworm Beijing after 14 wonderful years in Courtyard No. 4 off SouthSanlitun Road. Despite our best efforts, we appear to have fallen prey to the ongoing cleanup of “illegal structures”, and we have not been able to secure an extension of our lease.”

The announcement further says that the location will be forced to suspend operations “most probably” as of Monday, November 11, and that the Bookworm will attempt to reorganize and find a new location.

News of the Bookworm’s closing has been becoming a topic of conversation on various social media sites from WeChat to Twitter and Weibo.

Famous Chinese journalist and author Luo Changping (罗昌平) writes on Weibo: “The Bookworm is forced to close! It used to be next door to my former office, and it was once like my living room. Sigh.”

Shanghai comedian Storm Xu called the closure of the Beijing Bookworm “the end of an era,” saying he looks back on many good memories there.

“They had many events, good food, special books; I used to go there a few times per year,” one person writes. “This really is so sad,” other Weibo users respond.

There are also various Weibo commenters who also mention that news of Bookworm’s closing comes just a day after the news that publisher of magazine-books and online bookseller Duku Books (读库) is forced to close its Beijing warehouse for the sixth time.

Over the past decade, many popular venues in Beijing have been forced to close their doors or relocate. Beijing hangouts such as Bed Bar, Salud, Vineyard Cafe, 2 Kolegas, Jiangjinjiuba, Mao Livehouse, Hercules, Aperativo, The Bridge Cafe, Great Leap Brewery Sanlitun, Jing-A Taproom 1949, and many others have all been closed over the past years.

Nightlife hotspot Sanlitun bar street was demolished and bricked up in 2017 as part of the mission of the city management to gentrify the area.

Changing Sanlitun in 2017.

The demolishment of “illegal structures” in the city has been an ongoing effort of the local government for years. These efforts became especially visible in late 2017 when people in Beijing’s Daxing area faced a large-scale evacuation campaign after a big fire broke out there on November 18, killing 19 people.

The large-scale evacuation campaign was also expanded to other areas of Beijing in a campaign by the municipal authorities aimed at unlicensed developments to target “illegal structures” and “buildings with potential fire hazards.”

But many people on Weibo and WeChat questioned if the campaign was actually more about politics than about safety concerns – something that was strongly refuted by state media outlets at the time.

These questions will remain unanswered, also for the Bookworm. Is its closure really about closing down an “illegal structure,” or are there more politically-motivated considerations playing a role here? On Weibo, some commenters say the location is closed down for being a home of free discussions and “free thinking,” while others say that no matter what the place is, the building’s safety and legal status is what matters here.

Perhaps the future will tell. We surely hope the Bookworm will soon pop up and open its doors in another location very soon.

Those who are interested can support the Bookworm by coming by and buying books, which will be heavily discounted, until November 11.

By Manya Koetse

Images: Bookworm images by The Bookworm, edited by What’s on Weibo.
Sanlitun Image: Might have been taken by Manya in Beijing 2017, but we’re not 100% sure so let us know if we’re mistaken.

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.

©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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