Christmas Eve Turbulence in Nankai University of China

By Zhang Mingshen, Central News Agency
December 28, 2007 Updated: December 28, 2007

TAIPEI—On Christmas Eve a traffic accident caused a major uproar at Nankai University in Tianjin City 137 kilometers (85 miles) east of Beijing.

The incident happened after a car hit a student on campus and the driver assaulted the victim. Later, about 1,000 students joined in the protest and clashed with the police who ignored the perpetrator and instead began arresting students.

The protest began at around 8:30 p.m. on December 24 and continued until about 1:00 a.m. on December 25.

The vice president of Nankai University, Zhang Jing, promised not to look further into the cause, and to focus on improving traffic conditions on campus and handling things according to the law. However, some leading students have been arrested.

The whole event started when a bicyclist was hit by a Buick near the Student Union building. The driver refused to apologize, and began cursing the bicyclist. The driver later called the police to demand the victim's apology.

After police arrived at the scene, more and more students also gathered there. The driver called a few thugs for help who beat some students, but the police only dragged the students into police cars and let the thugs go. This sparked further anger among the witnessing students. A group of students surrounded the police car and let out the arrested students.

Students hoped the university principal would give them an explanation, but the principal never showed up. Around 10 p.m. impatient students started to become agitated. Angered by the police who took no action against the offender, some students ripped off the license plate of the Buick, and some began attacking the car.

Approximately 1,000 nearby students repeatedly shouted, “Hand him (the offender) over,” but received no response from the police. Then, some students overturned the car. Others waved five-starred red flags and sang the school song together.

During the protest, students and police had physical confrontations. Some policemen were knocked down by the students.

The incident continued until the vice principal promised to take up the matter himself and had the Buick towed away. He said things on campus have now calmed down.

Since the June 4 student pro-democratic movement in 1989, authorities have been sensitive about any gatherings on college campuses. The government tried to block the passage of information about this incident and forbade the media from reporting it. Even relevant messages in online discussion board were deleted at once.