Foreigners have been behaving badly in China for years, but only recently have ordinary Chinese, armed with cell phone cameras and viral power of the country’s burgeoning social media, been able to share local bad behavior with a national audience.
The latest video in this new trend shows a near-riot following a confrontation between a white foreign man and a Chinese woman in Zhengzhou, Henan province.
The man had allegedly slapped and spit on the woman, believing she’d rear-ended his car with her scooter. Bystanders, not content to call the police, assembled in an angry horde, forcing the man to flee into his car.
You can see a half dozen people hungrily filming the events on cell phones, pressing on the glass to snatch video of the man, who seems a little dazed and overwhelmed by the frothing mass of humanity outside. Cops eventually pull him into a waiting police van, causing the crowd to launch into a near-riot. They turn their destructive impulses on the car—whose tires had already been punctured—and try to flip it, but are turned back by police.
At the video’s end someone, apparently a public official, appears, and promises a full investigation, according to a translation by Beijing Cream: “Listen to me. This situation, I’m taking back, I’ll handle it properly. If I don’t handle it properly, I’ll resign. I’ll make my position known to everyone. Don’t worry!”
The crowd cheers and the matter seems settled—except on social media. One video of the event has been viewed nearly a million times on YouKu, China’s YouTube clone, its comment sections overflowing with xenophobia.
Anti-foreigner sentiment has been on the rise in China, fueled largely by videos shared via social media, and implicitly endorsed by public officials. In Beijing, the city government timed a crackdown on illegal foreign residents to coincide conveniently with the surge in xenophobia last May.
Those events similarly revolved around white Western men attacking Chinese women: In one, a Russian cellist for the Beijing symphony orchestra verbally abuses a woman on a train. In another, a group of Chinese men beat a British man unconscious. He’d allegedly sexually assaulted a Chinese woman.
We’ll give Beijing Cream the final word on this latest brouhaha:
It’s obvious and goes without saying that slapping and spitting on someone is an act worthy of condemnation across cultures, but so too is mob violence. Regarding the Friday incident in Zhengzhou, we can only agree that hardly anyone comes out looking very good.
Photo via YouKu