Fatal beating sparks outrage
By Ma Lie
Updated: 2008-01-22 07:25

More than 100 city officials from across the country have condemned city administrators in Hubei province for beating a man to death earlier this month for filming a dispute between the administrators and residents.

The officials, who gathered in Beijing over the weekend, said in a statement that the act "trampled the law and violated human rights", the Procutorial Daily reported yesterday.

They called on city administrators, or chengguan, to improve their work practices and build a friendly, civilized public image.

The declaration by the officials, who run chengguan bureaus, followed the death of Wei Wenhua, the general manager of a construction firm in the city of Tianmen.

Wei was beaten to death by about a dozen chengguan staff on Jan 7 after he was discovered using a cell phone to film a confrontation between the administrators and villagers over the dumping of trash.

Chengguan carry out a wide range of quasi-law enforcement tasks, such as keeping illegal vendors and sellers of pirated goods off the streets, deterring beggars and turning away distributors of commercial leaflets.

The Tianmen incident caused widespread public condemnation. Many people have urged tough punishment for the offenders.

More than 100 people are under police investigation regarding the incident and four have been detained.

The case has also aroused nationwide concern over the management of vendors and the carrying out of duties by chengguan.

"Brutal law enforcement will face a dead end and only reasonable law enforcement will be welcomed by the people," the officials said in their declaration.

"We must firmly oppose brutal law enforcement and show more concern for the needs of the people."

Li Zhi, secretary of the municipal Party Committee of Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, said: "Vendors are valuable for the city and residents, and they should have places to conduct their business.

"We must manage the vendors with consideration. Our city administrators should know that if you do not let them do business here, you must tell them where they can do so," Li was quoted as saying by China Youth yesterday.

"We should know that families of these vendors depend on them to survive," he said.

Li Qing, who lives in Urumqi, said: "We need the vendors to provide us with our daily necessities."

In June, authorities in Urumqi set up a number of low-rent markets for migrant vendors behind the main shopping area.

Liu Weimin, who works as a fruit seller, is one of the beneficiaries.

"I sell fruit to support my children who are in college," Liu said.

"Now that I pay just 10 yuan ($1.38) a month, I can work comfortably here."

Xinhua contributed to the story

(China Daily 01/22/2008 page3)