Government and Policy

Chengguan under fire for slapping old man

By Cheng Yingqi (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-11-15 07:03
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<EM>Chengguan</EM> under fire for slapping old man

Zhang Huiquan, a 73-year-old farmer in Zhengzhou, Henan province, narrates his confl ict with a chengguan offi cer on Nov 9. [Provided to China Daily]


ZHENGZHOU - Two chengguan officials in Zhengzhou of Central China's Henan province have been suspended after one of their subordinates repeatedly slapped a 73-year-old farmer who was trying to sell vegetables without a permit.

Zhang Guoxuan, an employee of Zhongbang property management company, which helps the local city administration bureau maintain order at the Jianye farm market, has been detained on charges of assault and fined 500 yuan ($75), Zhengzhou's public security bureau said.

Gu Ji'an, deputy director of the chengguan bureau of Jinshui district, and Ren Jinggang, an official with the local neighborhood management committee, were suspended from their posts over the weekend after they took responsibility for the incident.

On Nov 9, Zhang Guoxuan and three of his colleagues found Zhang Huiquan selling sweet potatoes and carrots at the east gate of the Jianye farm market in eastern Zhengzhou without permission.

Zhang Guoxuan asked the old farmer to leave the spot but was refused. He then smashed some of the potatoes and slapped Zhang Huiquan several times before leaving in a city administration car, according to a statement from the city's police bureau.

"If I knew my husband would be attacked, I would have rather lost all our vegetables," said 73-year-old Chen Guixiang, Zhang Huiquan's wife. "We only wanted to make some money to pay our paralyzed son's medical bills."

The couple drove a donkey cart for eight hours from their home in Zhongmou county to reach Zhengzhou, hoping to sell the sweet potatoes and carrots to make 500 yuan for their son, who became bed-ridden after an accident last year.

"When I parked my donkey cart outside the gate of the farm market, a few city administration officers sitting in a car said I cannot sell potatoes there and asked me to leave," Zhang Huiquan told the local Henan Business Daily.

"I would not have left, but I parked my cart a little further down. Then, another officer came to me and asked if I wanted to lose my vegetables."

"I told him he had no right to stop people from walking on roads, which made him angry and he threw my vegetables on the ground."

"Zhang tried to stop the officer, who then pushed and shoved him about 150 meters, all the while hitting him in the face," said a vegetable seller, surnamed Wang, who witnessed the incident.

Witnesses noted down the car's license plate number and phoned the police.

The incident has once again turned the spotlight on chengguan brutality, which has frequently made headlines in the country.

"I want the old couple to know that in this world, along with cruelty, there is also warmth," said Hong Xiaoyan, a local resident who donated 1,000 yuan to the couple on Thursday morning.

This is the third time within a week that chengguan officials have been accused of violence.

An officer broke a 63-year-old vegetable seller's finger in Nanjing, East China's Jiangsu province, on Wednesday. The officer has been placed under criminal detention, according to the Yangtze Evening News.

Xie Chunmei, a 33-year-old pregnant woman, also alleged she was kicked by city administration officers in Changchun, Northeast China's Jilin province, on Wednesday. The officers, however, have denied the accusation, local media reported.

Doctors said Xie might lose her baby.

Zhang Leilong contributed to this story.

China Daily

(China Daily 11/15/2010 page4)