A video uploaded to and going viral on Chinese social media has put police in the spotlight for abuse of power, more specifically threatening young women with prison rape for the supposed purpose of teaching them “respect for the law.”
The video was taken by one of two young women arrested by a police officer in Shenzhen, southern China, on May 21, for not having their identification with them. The women had been shopping when the officer stopped them and forced them into his patrol car with help from another officer.
On the way to the police station, the officer shouted at the women continuously, making threats laced with profanity and lewd remarks, which were captured in the video.
When the women fearfully doubted his identity and asked him to show proof of his profession, he flew into a fit and responded: “I think you might be a man, why the [expletive] did you just enter a women’s bathroom? Take off your clothes and show me the proof.”
He further intimidated the women, saying “Yes, I see you’re quite pretty,” and “since you don’t understand the law, let me teach you so you can improve your knowledge. I’ll lock you with those HIV-positives, thieves, and robbers, I’ll let you enjoy it slowly.”
“I’m just a police officer, you have to cooperate with me. All you’ve got to understand is that you’re being b[expletive]y today.”
The video was posted on the Sina Weibo social media site on June 10. Before being deleted by censors, it was commented on 40,000 times.
The same day, the local police chief apologized, as did his foul-mouthed underling, Southern Metropolis Daily reported. However, the officer being filmed qualified his verbal abuse with the claim that he was just trying to educate the girls as if they were his own children and instill in them a “respect for the law.”
“Civilians have mistaken me for abusing my authority,” he said, “but that was definitely not my starting point. If I were just to execute my post, I did not have to say anything while in the car.”
Netizen comments exhibited the outrage felt by the Chinese internet over the incident and the authorities’ abuse of power in general.
One comment recounts a harrowing personal experience in Beijing: “Over ten years ago, in from of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science, I was stuffed directly into the trunk of a police car because I did not have my identification on me. I was brought into Dazhongsi Police Station… constantly there were people crying and screaming.”
A user from Shenzhen compared the Chinese authorities with the Japanese occupation troops during World War II:
“The 1990s was the most terrible period for migrant workers [from other parts of China]. In the coastal cities of Guangdong Province, they [the police] check IDs every night, the local law and order brigades are just like Japanese military policemen, they check every person from outside provinces they come across, and beat them as long as they do not have identification. Truncheons, wooden sticks, and electric batons, they’ll beat you black and blue and bleeding, then you will be sent to the local quarry, such as Zhangmutou, etc., for three months of forced labor and reeducation, or be fined from 1,000 to 2,000 yuan (a few hundred dollars).”
Other users used the incident to lambast Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who recently made headlines by berating a Canadian journalist for her “arrogance and prejudice” in daring to ask about human rights in China.
“It reminds me of what the foreign minister Wang Yi said—do you know China? Have you been to China? Do you know that China has written human right protection into Constitution? I tell you, the one that knows the human rights situation in China the most is not you, but Chinese people!” one user wrote, loosely and ironically quoting the minister’s words.
“It’s a slap on the face of Wang Yi” another wrote. “Are there human rights? Obviously this is inappropriate and violent law enforcement … too unprofessional.”