How Chinese Media Systematically Lies About the Police

By Juliet Song
Juliet Song
Juliet Song
May 9, 2016 Updated: May 15, 2016

Skimming through news articles in Chinese publications, it’s hard not to notice a trend emerging out of the average: the superb quality of China’s police force.

The purported exploits, from ordinary acts of kindness to detective triumphs of extraordinary merit, of these tireless “uncle policemen,” as they are known to Chinese, are recorded in bombastic diction and overwrought detail.

In this file photo paramilitary police march through Tiananmen Square in Beijing on Nov. 7, 2012. (Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)
In this file photo paramilitary police march through Tiananmen Square in Beijing on Nov. 7, 2012. (Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)

On March 29, Dahe Daily published a piece about a Chinese man who had hired a hit man to kill himself. Much of the article, however, focuses not on the news per se, but dedicates a formidable section of text to the brilliance and persistence of the police officers investigating the case.

“Detective Zhang Jiong has grown a full beard as he stands in trance on the beach of the Yellow Sea on Nov. 15,” an excerpt from the article reads. “His team has been struggling to find the suspect for 30 days, and Zhang will not shave until the arrest is made. This is his vow.”

Or the case of an officer who cared selflessly for a death row criminal in the last months of his life:

Wu Youlin, a murderer of two children in the southeastern province of Jiangxi was sentenced to death, and the execution was carried out last December. However, a “model policeman,” Huang Shuibiao, provided exceptional care for the doomed convict, going so far as to buy Wu underwear and food as well as find out his birthday and present him a custom-made cake.

In 2014, when Wu’s mother passed away, Huang, whose deeds appeared in a provincial state-run publication, took it upon himself to drive to Wu’s hometown and send a floral wreath for the deceased, as Wu could not go himself on account of being incarcerated. Before his execution, Wu gave Huang a tearful embrace, and was reported to say “you treated me this well for so many years, even if I were a dog, I would be moved!”

Using social media, these narratives can reach hundreds of millions with their posts and narrative police work, boosting the image of the authorities and in particular the Communist Party.

But not everyone is ready to buy it. “Isn’t this just what the police are supposed to do?” one internet comment reads.

Public security authorities have also been accused of primarily serving the interests of officials and the wealthy, while callously ignoring crime against ordinary Chinese.

Epoch Times Photo
Chinese police push away journalists and supporters of human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang demonstrating near the Beijing Second Intermediate People’s Court in Beijing on December 14, 2015. (FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)

Another berates the media for whitewashing the police: “you guys don’t see the traffic cops when they’re crazed. There are too many things that you don’t see and don’t understand. Hopefully you can come to see things from the perspective of the common people.”

In a recent case that caused widespread outrage on Chinese social media, a woman staying in a Beijing hotel was assaulted and nearly kidnapped, but was brushed off by the officers on duty when she contacted them to give details about the attack.

“I live in a country where posting on Weibo (a popular Chinese social media platform) is more useful than reporting to the police,” one sympathetic netizen wrote.

About a week following the above incident, on April 10, reports emerged of a young woman from the city of Wuhan who was apparently drugged and sexually harassed by police.

According to the local Chutian Metropolis Daily, while riding an express train, the woman passed out after inexplicably feeling dizzy and breaking out into a sweat. An officer poured water on her to wake her up, and then tried to coax her into watching pornographic videos with him on his phone.

Juliet Song
Juliet Song