SENSATIONAL MURDERS IN CHINA
robbery, murder In the early 2000s, an ethnic Korean ex-con beheaded a young woman in Jilin Province because he lusted for her long hair. He then took the head and took the skin off her face and stir fried it with pepper. The police caught him just as he was preparing to eat it. They found the skull and the hair in a storage room.
The Beijing Star Daily described a man who murdered his wife because she was so paranoid he was having an affair she wouldn’t let him see other people. He reportedly cut up her body, boiled the various parts to get rid of the evidence of blood, and them took parts to work in the trunk of his car.
In August 2004, a kidnapper who had abducted two children in Hebei Province was shot at point blank range by police and then fell five stories from a building. The kidnapper was assumed to be dead. On the way to the cremation chamber funerals workers heard moving and opened the coffin and found the man was still alive.
In 2000, a Beijing woman paid an assassin about $12,000 to kill or disfigure her husband’s mistress. the assassin failed in his task but killed the woman who hired him when she demanded her money back. The assassin was later executed for murder.
In January 2007, a prostitute and an employee at a logistics company murdered a 50-year-old man who met with the prostitute. The prostitute and her accomplice dismembered the victim’s body and sent the trunk in a box labeled as containing medicine to a logistics company in Qindao, Shandong Province and sent the arms and head to another place in Jiangsu Province.
There are many domestic murders. In some women’s prisons nearly all the inmates are women who murdered their husbands. In Henan province there have been reports of bandits robbing and killing travelers on the roads after dark. Firearms are hard to come by. Many murders are done with poisons and explosives because people can get their hands on them more easily. See Bombings, Terrorism.
Good Websites and Sources: 2005 Statistics danwei.org ; China Crime News einnews.com/china ; 2009 Report by Overseas Security Advisory Council osac.gov/Reports Travel Warnings U.S. State Department Advisories: Travel.State.gov British travel warnings: fco.gov.uk . Australian travel warnings: dfat.gov.au/travel . Travel Advise Web Sites : Lonely Planet Lonely Planet Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree Thorn Tree
Links in this Website: CRIME IN CHINA Factsanddetails.com/China ; TRIADS AND ORGANIZED CRIME IN CHINA Factsanddetails.com/China ; POLICE IN CHINA Factsanddetails.com/China ; JUSTICE SYSTEM IN CHINA Factsanddetails.com/China ; EXECUTIONS AND PRISONS IN CHINA Factsanddetails.com/China ; HUMAN RIGHTS IN CHINA Factsanddetails.com/China ; DISSIDENTS, POLITICAL ACTIVISTS AND POLITICAL PRISONERS IN CHINA Factsanddetails.com/China ; TERRORISM AND BOMBINGS IN CHINA Factsanddetails.com/China
Gruesome Murder of Pamela Werner in 1937
Rana Mitter wrote in The Guardian: “On the morning of 8 January 1937, the body of a 19-year-old girl was found at the foot of the Fox Tower in Beijing. All the blood had been drained from her body and in a particularly gruesome detail, her heart was missing, ripped out through her broken rib cage. The victim was Pamela Werner, daughter of ETC Werner, well-known in the British community as a former consul and academic sinologist. Pamela had been an ordinary expatriate schoolgirl, something of a loner, but keen on ice-skating and listening to big bands on the radio. Unusually, though, she spoke fluent Mandarin. Was there a hidden side to her life, people asked, that had led to her terrible death? [Source: Rana Mitter, The Guardian, June 8, 2012]
An investigation was launched, but it quickly ran into trouble. The Legation Quarter of the city where expatriates under treaty protection tended to live was at the heart of the investigation, and an unusual joint Chinese-British police operation was instigated to get at the truth. Yet over and over again, the police were steered away from details that might throw the spotlight of blame on to the white community. Perhaps it was more convenient, and less embarrassing, to think that crazed Chinese ritual killers might be responsible. [Ibid]
“ Midnight in Peking by Paul French is about the murder. Mitter wrote: “Paul French's narrative of the investigation is spellbinding, drawing the reader from the very first pages into an unwholesome, macabre world where nothing seems to make sense. In a welcome turn away from orientalist cliché, the book makes the westerners in Peking seem like an assortment of oddballs, standing out amid a crowd of Chinese who are getting on with their lives as best they can. [Ibid]
“A respectable American dentist turns out to be the leader of a nudist club (and his own consulate thinks him capable of more sinister and abusive activity). An upright schoolteacher is found to have sadistic tendencies and is shipped off to Britain. Even Werner, the scholar who turned detective, comes over as an obsessive (as well he might do with a murdered daughter), a man of violent temper who had broken a young Chinese man's nose for daring to talk to Pamela. [Ibid]
“The British authorities in China did their best to try to preserve their mystique of superiority in the face of the murder, thwarting attempts by British and Chinese detectives alike to penetrate into the "badlands" of the city to search for clues in a steamy quarter of brothels and dope dens. As war with Japan loomed, Werner became ever more frantic to find out the truth. A plausible account of what might have happened did eventually emerge, but too late to bring the culprit to justice. [Ibid]
“French calls the book a "reconstruction", and that is quite accurate in the sense that history and true-crime shows on TV use the same term to describe a way of putting together known facts in an accessible fashion. But the technique does mean that, although the book is based on archival materials, many never used before, it often verges on the speculative: we're frequently told what a policeman or a doctor was thinking or feeling in a way that sounds novelistic rather than purely historical. [Ibid]
“Pamela Werner's murder was so shocking, and the cast of characters surrounding it so baroque, that it's hard to use it to make a wider point. [Ibid]
“Midnight in Peking could be usefully supplemented by a book such as Robert Bickers's Empire Made Me (2003), which tells the tale of a British policeman stationed in Shanghai between the wars, and combines a wonderfully atmospheric account of the city's "noisy stinking streets" with a thoughtful social history of the changes in the substantial British presence in China. And Qian Zhongshu's classic 1947 novel Fortress Besieged (available in English translation) is perhaps the best evocation in fiction of what the tumultuous politics of the 1930s meant for China's own citizens as they coped with the onset of war and the horrors that followed. [Ibid]
“Book: Midnight in Peking by Paul French
Dismembered Chinese Victim
In May 2012, a Canadian Man---'Cannibal’ Luka Magnotta---was accused of killing and dismembering his lover---33-year-old Chinese student Jun Lin’sending his body parts to Canadian political parties and schools. Jun’s dismembered torso was found on May 29 stuffed in a suitcase dumped outside a Montreal apartment building. [Source: Jack Losh, The Sun, July 27, 2012]
“According to the British tabloid The Sun the victim’s mother Zhigui Du said she was initially dominated by sorrow and anger after son Jun Lin’s horrific death.But now she has begun to feel sympathy on some level for the man she calls the “devil". Speaking after her son’s funeral, Ms Du said: “Back then, I could only use “devil” to describe the alleged murderer. “But later on, when I learned more about this suspect through different news sources, especially about his upbringing, I shockingly discovered my other self who has started to develop sympathy for this person.” [Ibid]
“Ms Du says was too distraught to attend her son’s funeral but gave the eulogy later at a news conference. At the funeral, Jun’s father Daran Lin entered the chamber clutching his son’s urn and sobbed openly as he sat in the front row. Magnotta has pleaded not guilty to murder charges. [Ibid]
Chinese Couple Bury Woman Alive, Sparking Outrage
In May 2012, Reuters reported: “Chinese police have arrested a young couple who buried an old woman alive believing she was dead after their car hit the 68-year-old, newspapers said, in a case which has sparked outrage over declining public morality. The couple had been at an all-night karaoke session when they hit the woman while driving in the early hours of the morning in the wealthy eastern province of Zhejiang last month, the official China Daily said. [Source: Reuters, May 23, 2012]
“A witness said he heard someone crying and saw an elderly woman lying on the ground near (the car)," it cited a policeman as saying. "A man and a woman got out and put the elderly woman in the car, saying they would send her to hospital." But, worried about being arrested for drunk driving and causing the accident and believing she was no longer alive, they buried her near the side of the road, the report added. However, when police later found the woman's body they discovered she was still alive when she was buried, and had then suffocated to death, the paper said. [Ibid]
“The story has been widely discussed on China's popular Twitter-like service Weibo, where it has ignited uproar for what some called the immorality of modern Chinese society. "Such things show that our society really has huge problems it is not facing," wrote one user. "People of China, how have you come to this?" wrote another. [Ibid]
“China's economic boom and the growing disparity between the rich and poor have made changing social values a contentious topic, with some lamenting what they see as materialism and a get-rich-quick attitude replacing public morals. [Ibid]
Multiple Murders in China
catching a murder suspect
Between August 1999 and 2000, a pair of thugs mugged 70 pedestrians for the money and beat them so badly with hammers and iron sticks that 12 died and 58 were badly injured. In 2000, a gang of robbers in Shenyang murdered 21 taxi drivers before they were caught and executed.
In November 2003, a man was arrested in connection with the stabbing murders of 65 people in several provinces. He reportedly “desperately wanted to retaliate against society.” He was arrested after being dumped by his girlfriend.
In 1997, Shanghai was terrorized by a serial killer who according to rumors killed 10 women "with long hair, riding up behind them on a motorbike and then hitting them on the head with a hammer." The truth was that man had attacked 13 middle-aged women and one man, killing two of them. He used an iron bar and robbery was his motive. Police said nothing about long hair, nevertheless hair shops noted a marked increase in the number of haircuts. The killer was a migrant worker.
Between March 2001 and December 2003, a man kidnapped, tortured, and killed 17 teenage boys and then buried under his house in Henan Province in central China. Most of the victims were regulars at Internet cafes. In one instance the killer left a severed hand of a victim at an Internet café, which seemed to be an effort to taunt police. He was executed shortly after he was caught.
In August 2004, a convicted rapist with a grudge murdered eight members of an extended family by slashing them to death with an ax. The victims, including a 4-year-old toddler and a 15-year-old twin boy and girl, were found in pools of blood with huge gashes in their neck.
In September 2009, a man stabbed two security guards to death with a knife and wounded 12 others in central Beijing. The man, 46-year-old Zhang Jianfei, carried out the attack in the busy Dashilan commercial street near Tiananmen Square. No motive was given. Zhang was reportedly drunk at the time of the slayings.
In June 2010 a man in Jiangxi was sentenced to death for a knife rampage that left eight people dead, including his wife, daughter and elderly mother.
Chinese Truck Driver Kills Five in Road Rampage
In November 2008, an angry truck driver deliberately mowed down a group of teenagers and their parents in south China, killing five and wounding 19, the country's state media reported. Police in Guangdong province said the 34-year-old driver, surnamed Luo, had expressed a desire to revenge himself on society after officers confiscated his unlicensed motorbike. [Source: Tania Branigan The Guardian, November 6, 2008]
Luo drove to Chengdong Middle School in the Doumen area, where students were leaving at the end of the school day. He ploughed into two pupils just outside the grounds, throwing off a man who tried to climb on to his truck to stop him as he burst through the back gate of the school. Inside, he hit more pupils and parents - killing four teenagers and one parent, leaving two more in a critical condition - before exiting through the front of the grounds. [Ibid]
Police said they shot and killed the attacker at the wheel of his vehicle to prevent him causing further deaths, firing at him twice as he drove through a neighborhood at high speed, ignoring warnings to stop. They also said that Luo was a migrant worker from Hubei province, who was “introverted and intolerant” and had become embittered by work and marital problems. When traffic officers confiscated his driving licence and motorbike last month, because the vehicle had fake licence plates, he wrote a letter to his wife and parents saying he did not want to live any more. [Ibid]
The day before traffic police told Luo they would give him a 1000 yuan (£90) fine, award him penalty points and make him pass a test before returning his licence. As he angrily left their office he told a friend he wanted to drive to a local school and knock people over. His friend reported him to police but they were unable to capture him. [Ibid]
China has seen numerous cases of frustrations boiling over into violence in recent months. A few days before Luo’s attack, a man was sentenced to death for injuring 18 people when he blew up a government office in retaliation for the destruction of his illegally-built home. In perhaps the most notorious case, 28-year-old Yang Jia killed six officers in a raid on a police station in Shanghai in July, in revenge for his earlier detention over a bicycle, which they said he had stolen. Police denied mistreating him, but the case has prompted widespread sympathy, with many seeing it as emblematic of official brutality and the impossibility of ordinary citizens achieving redress. Thousands of internet users attacked Yang's death sentence. [Ibid]
Ax Man Kills Six in Central China Attack
sentenced to death for murderer of 13 people A mentally disturbed man with an ax attacked children and parents walking on a city street in central China on Wednesday, killing six, local officials said. AP reported: Three adults and one child died at the scene of the early morning assault on the outskirts of the city of Gongyi, and another child and one other adult later succumbed to their wounds, a city government spokeswoman said.” Gongyi is in heavily populated Henan province in China's grain belt.[Source: Christopher Bodeen, September 14, 2011]
Villagers have identified the perpetrator of the attack as a local farmer with a history of mental illness, said the spokeswoman. The alleged assailant, Wang Hongbin, began attacking people on a main street in Gongyi's Shecun township at about 8:40 a.m. (0040 GMT), she said. Wang was taken into custody and police were carrying out further investigations, she said. Local media reports earlier said the attack took place outside a kindergarten.
Chinese Mother Sentenced to Death for Killing Nine-Year-Old Son
In January 2009, a Chinese court has sentenced a mother to death for hiring a man to strangle her 9-year-old son so she could have a baby with her new husband without violating the “one child” policy. Li Yingfang had previously ordered a failed attempt on the life of her young stepdaughter, court officials in Shaanxi, central China, confirmed today.[Source: Tania Branigan, The Guardian, January 16, 2009]
Li, 36, gave custody of her son to the boy's grandmother after her first husband died, an official at a lower court in Weinan confirmed to the Associated Press news agency. People who remarry may have second children if their new partners are childless. But Li's second husband had a daughter from his own first marriage, preventing the couple from having a child together legally. [Ibid]
According to Shaanxi Television, Li initially paid Wang Ruijie about 70,000 yuan (£6,900) to kill her stepdaughter. But after the girl resisted and escaped, Li took her own son to a meeting with Wang, who strangled the boy and left his body by a rural road. [Ibid]
The court in Weinan originally imposed a suspended death sentence because Li had suffered from depression after having two abortions because of the population laws. Such sentences are often commuted to life in prison. But the higher people's court in Shaanxi ordered her execution after it ruled her depression was not directly related to her crime. Wang was given a suspended death sentence. Both were ordered to pay compensation to the bereaved grandmother. [Ibid]
Henan Murder Victim Surfaces Alive
In May 2010, a man in the central province of Henan convicted for murder was set free after 10 years in prison after the man he was accused of killed returned to his village. Relatives of the imprisoned man, Zhao Zuohai, said he was tortured to force him to confess even thigh he was innocent. Zhao was given $45,000 in compensation for his wrongful imprisonment, The incident again put the spotlight on coercive tactic used by police to extract convictions. [Source: AP]
Zhao Zuohai, a 57-year-old resident of Zhaolou village in Zhecheng county, was wrongfully convicted of the murder of a fellow villager in 1999. In October 1997, according to a court statement, Zhao Zuohai and his neighbor Zhao Zhenshang had a fight, after which the latter went missing. Four months later, Zhao Zhenshang's nephew reported to the police that his uncle was missing. In May 1999, a headless body was found in the village. Zhao Zuohai was arrested and, in 2002, convicted of murdering Zhao Zhenshang. [Source: China Daily, May 10, 2010]
However, Zhao Zhenshang, the 58-year-old “victim”, returned to the village on April 30. The Higher People's Court in Henan confirmed Zhao Zhenshang's identity on Friday and acquitted Zhao Zuohai. Zhao Zhenshang told Beijing News that he fled the village because he had attacked Zhao Zuohai and was afraid he might have killed him. Zhao Zhenshang, who is paralyzed and has no money for treatment, said he was forced to come back to his village to get basic welfare payouts. However, he said he was not remorseful about Zhao Zuohai being wronged. “He had such a bad temper. He needed a lesson somewhere, somehow,” Zhao Zhenshang was quoted as saying.
Zhao Zhenshang said he was once friendly with Zhao Zuohai, but the relationship turned to hatred after the latter refused to return 1,800 yuan he had borrowed, and also because Zhao Zuohai was having an affair with a married woman in the village, which was “really immoral”. Zhao Zuohai had a wife and four children when he was convicted. Now, he has no family as his wife remarried and took two children with her. The other two have been adopted by other families.
Investigation of Henan Murder Case
The suspended death sentence handed down in 2002 was rescinded; and the court also said Zhao Zuohai will be compensated. According to the State Compensation Law, the amount payable is calculated on the average daily salary of a State employee in the previous year. Based on the current level, which is 112 yuan ($16) a day, Zhao Zuohai will receive at least 306,600 yuan for losing his freedom from Dec 5, 2002, when he was sentenced.
Zhang Liyong, chief judge of the Henan Higher People's Court, said an investigation has been launched into the wrongful conviction. Zhang said those who were responsible for the judicial error will be held accountable; and that judges should learn a lesson from the case. Zhao Zuolan, Zhao Zuohai's sister, told China Daily her brother had confessed to the crime because of police torture. “My brother told me he was really treated unjustly,” she said, adding that Zhao showed her a scar on his forehead caused when he was hit with a gun.
Zhao's ex-wife said she was tortured by the police for about a month in 1999 when the headless body was found. “The police kept asking me if I knew Zhao Zuohai killed the man. I said I didn't know, but they beat me,” she told Beijing News. “I married another villager after I learned he was convicted.” Police are trying to identify the headless body, which is the key to “the investigation”, Beijing Times reported.
The case resembles a far-reaching one in 1998 in which then 32-year-old She Xianglin was sentenced to 15 years in prison for allegedly murdering his wife surnamed Zhang. The husband was reportedly having an affair before his wife disappeared from their hometown in Jingshan county of Central China's Hubei province in January 1994. Three months later, a body found in a local pond was identified as Zhang by her relatives. She was arrested in late April 1994. However on March 28, 2005, She's wife returned home, by which time her husband had served seven years of his sentence. He was declared innocent and released on April 13, 2005. In September the same year, he received a compensation of 460,000 yuan.
Revenge Killing for Police Brutality
murder sentenced to death for
stabbing hit and run victim In July 2008, Yang Jia, a 28-year-old unemployed man, forced his way into a Shanghai police station and killed six policemen in a stabbing spree. A local newspaper reported that the attack was revenge for torture and beatings by police in which he sustained a concussion and lost three teeth after being accused cutting in a train station line. On another occasion he was beaten and tortured after being accused of stealing a bicycle he had rented. In the latter case Yang tried to sue the police for psychological damage but the claim was rejected.
Yang entered the Zhebei Police Station in a suburb of Shanghai through a service entrance with knife and a mask after starting a diversionary fire near the front gate of the station. He stabbed four police officers on the first floor and two more and on the 9th and 11th floors before being subdued. A former supermarket clerk, Yang enjoyed hiking, photography and relaxing with a good book according to his MySpace posting.
Yang drew an extraordinary amount of sympathy. People gave him credit for standing up to police who are seen by many as abusive and exploitive. Hundreds of protesters, some of them with signs that read “Long Live the Killer,” showed up at one of his hearings. More than 4,000 people signed a an open letter, urging that his life be spared. A multitude of websites, blogs and Internet bulletin board discussions expressed support for Yang. One blogger wrote, “Yang did what we dare not do. Because of him, when we go to Shanghai, and bike in the street, we don’t have to fear policemen beating us.”
Yang was sentenced to death in September 2008. Large numbers of protestors showed up at his second trial in a higher court where his death sentence was upheld. Some doubted whether he even committed the crime based on inconsistencies in the way the evidence was presented. In November 2008, China’s highest upheld his death sentence.
Poisonings in China
In September 2002, 40 people, many of them children, died and another 100 were sickened when they ingested breakfast snacks spiked with rat poison at a snack bar in Tangshan, a town in coastal Jiangsu province. Some of the victims had blood dripping from their mouths and ears. Later a rival of another shop confessed that he poisoned the snacks because he was jealous about the snack bar’s success.
Poisoning, particularly with a kind of very strong rat poison called Dushuqiang, is a serious problem in China. In October 2004, a woman killed 10 people in her village of Lichan in Hubei Province by putting rat poison in the funeral lunch of her dead husband. A restaurant owner was sentenced to death for poisoning the donkey soup of rival that sickened 148 people. There have also been cases of teachers poisoning students and a zookeeper poisoning animals to spite his boss.
One man in Shaoyang city in Hunan Province killed 13 people, including his wife and tried to poison to death another 24 people, because he had a dream he could be cured of his long-term illness if he killed 12 people.
Poisoning is one of the top 10 causes of death for Chinese between the ages of 5 and 29. The problem is serious enough that banners are hung that condemn the use of rat poison. Making, storing or selling Dushuqiang is a crime punishable by death. Some have suggested that poisoning is so common because guns are difficult for ordinary people to obtain and people feel they have few options if they are treated unfairly.
Gun Crimes in China
In May 2010, a security guard in Hunan province in southerly China, apparently upset by a court-imposed divorce settlement, shot and killed three judges and wounded three others before turning the gun on himself. [Source: Mitch Moxley, Asian Times, June 24, 2010]
In early 2007, a man in northeast China killed five family members and neighbors in a rampage with a homemade pistol. In September 2007, a man in Guangzhou city in southern China was sentenced to 19 years after using a replica gun to rob a bank customer. And in December 2008, a guard at a munitions depot shot and killed a colleague over a chess match, and was shot to death himself by police two days later. Guns also figured prominently during the 2008 unrest in the Tibet Autonomous Region, when a policeman and a Tibetan insurgent were killed during a gun battle. [Ibid]
“There has been an increase [of gun crime] in recent years,” Ding Xinzhen of Chongqing Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of Law, told the Asian Times. “It can be attributed to the rich-poor gap and unfair distribution of social benefits, together with inefficient government management [of gun laws].” [Ibid]
Chinese Gun Culture
“The growth of gun crimes being reported in state media coincides with the development of a gun culture in China,” Moxley wrote. “Web sites and magazines cater to the growing market. For instance, Small Arms, a bi-weekly glossy magazine, has 60,000 subscribers, and guns are regularly featured in Chinese films. The government has green-lighted shooting clubs in some cities, and businessmen are turning to hunting as a leisure activity. Freshman college students can receive basic training in marksmanship, a sport China thrived on during the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games.” [Source: Mitch Moxley, Asian Times, June 24, 2010]
“China is one of the world's largest gun manufacturers, and many guns end up on the black market because of lax controls at factories and theft from armories. Ding said other black market guns in China were homemade weapons of poor quality. Other better-quality guns are smuggled into China through Myanmar. Prices for smuggled weapons range from about 500 to 2,000 yuan (US$73 to US$294), Ding said. [Ibid]
“China and guns have a long history. The country invented gunpower and developed one of the world's first guns, known as the “fire spear”. Rifles played a major role in China's modern history, from the fight against the Japanese army to the communists' victory over the Nationalists. In 1938, Mao Zedong famously said that “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun”. [Ibid]
Gun Control Laws in China
sentenced to death for murder of children These crimes have occurred even though China has some of the most severe firearms laws in the world and a blanket ban on gun ownership, including replicas. Since 1966, the government has prohibited the private manufacture, sale, transport, possession and import or export of bullets and guns. Possessing a single gun can yield a three-year prison sentence, while perpetrators of gun crimes are often executed. [Source: Mitch Moxley, Asian Times, June 24, 2010]
Mitch Moxley wrote in the Asian Times, “Yet despite harsh penalties, China's Ministry of Public Safety (MPS) has said it increasingly faces armed suspects, particularly in Chongqing, which has become a hotbed of illegal gun trafficking. In January 2009, police netted 470 suspects and 183 firearms following a 40-day campaign. In 2008, Chongqing municipal public security bureau statistics showed 339 cases involving illegal guns.” [Ibid]
“Li Dafu, a lawyer from the Henghexin law firm in Chengdu, Sichuan province in southwest China, said that while the country had adequate gun control regulations, the laws were often poorly enforced, particularly at the local government level. Li, who is also an expert on gun crime and gun control law in China, pointed to a massive criminal trial last year in Chongqing city in southwest China, where a massive crackdown on organized crime netted some 2,000 suspects and 48 guns, and revealed a connection between gangs and government officials. “The Chongqing gang cases tell us that in some places the local government has a beneficial relationship with local crime groups. They turn a blind eye when it concerns illegal gun use,” Li said. [Ibid]
“China introduced gun control in 1966, after children armed with rifles shot out a window at the Great Hall of the People at the Tiananmen Square in Beijing while trying to hit a sparrow, according to official MPS history. The government cracked down harder on gun ownership after the 1989 pro- democracy demonstrations. China's government periodically hosts rallies where citizens are encouraged to surrender guns in exchange for cash. One six-month campaign in 2008 netted 79,000 guns, 1.8 million replica guns and 5.75 million bullets, according to the MPS.” [Ibid]
Baseball Bats Widely used as Defensive Weapons in China
Reporting from Dingzhou, China, David Pierson wrote in the Los Angeles Times, “Truck driver Wang Yonggang has never seen a baseball game or sung "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." He couldn't explain a sacrifice bunt. But Wang's got a good eye for bats. His is a lightweight aluminum model with a long barrel and a sticky rubber grip. He treasures his Chinese-made club so much that he keeps it tucked under the seat of his rig. [Source: David Pierson, Los Angeles Times, November 01, 2011]
"I need it for protection," Wang, 32, a native of Inner Mongolia, told the Los Angeles Times. He hauls heavy equipment across busy northeast highways stalked by thugs looking to steal loads and siphon fuel. "There's local hooligans everywhere and they'll threaten you if you don't pay them money." Wang has so far resisted using his stick---even the handful of times he's been shaken down for cash at roadblocks. But if he's ever attacked, Wang hopes that a few hacks of his fire-engine-red bat will scare away the criminals.
In recent years, the offensive tool of America's national pastime has become a defensive weapon of choice in China. Though baseball has barely made a dent in the consciousness of Chinese sports fans, bats are a familiar accessory in a country where the pursuit of money at all costs and a weak faith in law enforcement have led many people to take matters into their own hands.
The Shanghai Morning Post recently reported that bats had become a handy tool for drivers hoping to intimidate people should they find themselves in traffic disputes. Chen Hai, a Shanghai arts dealer, often travels with an aluminum bat lying across the front passenger seat of his BMW sedan. "I haven't had to use it yet, but it makes me feel safe and prepared," said Chen, 35, who transports valuable artwork through rural provinces that neighbor Shanghai. "Things are unpredictable once you leave the city." He considered buying a kung fu sword but decided it would be too unwieldy. So he settled on a 34-inch purple-and-green bat, meant for self-defense, that he found at a camping store for $8.
Before mass urbanization took hold and most Chinese lived on farms, people protected themselves with the family shovel, rake or hoe. Today, city dwellers have few options. Guns are outlawed. Daggers and machetes require permits. Shanghai and Beijing even require buyers to register their names to buy a kitchen knife.
Bats are less lethal and thus more attractive, said Chi Yiwei, a manufacturer in eastern Zhejiang province. "You make the wrong move with a knife and you could accidentally kill someone," said Chi, a self-described former hoodlum. "Hit someone with a bat, you'll likely just injure them." Chi makes a steel-alloy club with a long, thin barrel of exceptional toughness. His website features a video of him smashing red bricks in half with his bat and running it over with a car. In both instances, the bat survives without a dent.
Chi said the breakthrough for the domestic bat industry came six years ago, when authorities banned the online sale of popular collapsible steel rods that fit into pocket-sized holsters. That gave sellers the idea to turn to baseball bats, whose availability had grown after the industry shifted from the U.S. to China about a decade ago.
Baseball Bat Industry in China
David Pierson wrote in the Los Angeles Times, “China is now the world's largest manufacturer of metal bats, filling orders for companies such as Van Nuys-based Easton Bell Sports and Hillerich & Bradsby Co., makers of the famed Louisville Slugger brand, according to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Assn. in Maryland. Search today for baseball bats on China's leading e-commerce site, Taobao, and you'll find an abundance of options under "self-defense." When anti-government riots erupted in Xinjiang province in 2009, young men took to the streets waving pool cues, steel rods and enough baseball bats to field a couple of teams. It's no accident that piles of bats can be found for sale at highway rest stops, where they often command prominent positions at the entrances to convenience stores. [Source: David Pierson, Los Angeles Times, November 01, 2011]
Such bats would never be confused with the $125 handcrafted Marucci wooden beauties swung by St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols. Often thinner than conventional U.S. bats, many Chinese models would be useless on the diamond. Customers here don't seem to care. Who needs a tapered handle or fat sweet spot for slugging kneecaps?
Dou Kai, owner of a bat-making company, said his most popular seller was a 30-inch aluminum club resembling a fungo bat, a specialized baseball bat used to hit balls to fielders during practice. He also makes a 25-inch model of hard steel that looks more like a billy club and weighs 52 ounces---about the same as the heaviest wooden bats used in the big leagues. "That one's purely for self-defense," said Dou, pointing to a stack in his workshop emblazoned with logos such as Commando and Ronin, a reference to the Japanese samurai legend.
Dou started making bats four years ago. Before that, he manufactured kung fu equipment---long spears, metal chain whips and stainless-steel axes---using skills his father handed down to him. His company also makes brass knuckles, nunchucks and throwing stars. Then wholesalers started asking Dou if he could add bats to his lineup. So he sent workers to a bat factory to learn how.
Within months, he was churning out metal and wooden bats from two sheds in his hometown of Dingzhou, a bleak industrial city about a three-hour drive southwest of Beijing. His company, Shanren Sports, now employs 30 workers and produces 6,000 bats a month, about half of them for customers inside China. "I spend more time thinking about how they can defend better. I'm not invested in the game," said Dou, a soft-spoken 35-year-old. He can demonstrate proper use of his martial arts weapons, but admits he'd be dumbfounded standing at home plate.
School Murders and Attacks on Children in China
In the mid 2000s there was a wave of knife attacks involving teachers, students and strangers at Chinese schools. In August 2004, a janitor at a kindergarten in Beijing stabbed 15 children with a kitchen knife, killing one child and leaving others with nasty wounds. One child and a teacher sustained serious knife wounds. In December 2004, a man with a history of mental illness forced his way into primary school and injured twelve first graders with a knife and slashed his own throat but survived.
In November 2004, a 21-year-old man broke into a high school dormitory and stabbed nine Chinese boys to death as they slept in the city of Fuzhou in the central province of Henan. The attack occurred around midnight. four other boys were stabbed. Two were seriously injured. All the victims were sleeping on lower bunks. The man was turned in by his mother after he tried to commit suicide. The killer, 21-year-old Yan Yanming, said he carried out the attack because he hated the students at the school. He didn’t provide any details. A survivor said that while he was carrying out the attacks Yan said, “Don’t blame me.”
In one celebrated case, apparent thieves broke into the apartments of two famous actors at the Academy of Film compound and slit the throats of the wives of both men and the child of one them.
In July 2007, eighteen children aged seven and below and their teacher were injured when a mentally ill man entered a kindergarten with a wrench in Foshan city in Guangdong Province. Many of the victims were struck on the head with the wrench but no one named sustained serious injuries
In February 2008, a former student broke into a school in Guangdong province, killed two schoolmates and then stabbed himself in the abdomen and leapt to his death from the 5th floor of the school building. Three students and a teacher that tried to stop him were wounded. The killer had reportedly dropped of school during his junior year because of severe headaches that made it difficult for him to study.
Attacks on Children in China in 2010
Kindergarten murders On May 12, 2010, a man hacked seven children and one teacher to death and injured 20 other people at a kindergarten in Hanzhong city in Shaanxi Province and then killed himself. The rampage occurred despite increased security at schools, including gates and security cameras installed and additional police and guards posted at entrances of many schools, after a several other attacks in the previous two months.
The attacker in Hanzhong was local man in his 40s who owned the house in which the kindergarten was located. One witness told AP, “I saw him before and he looked quite normal. In Hangzhong, a city with 3.72 million people, nearly 2,000 police officers and security guards had been assigned to patrol public schools.
In April 2010 there were three attacks on children in China in three days and five over a period of month. On April 29, in the city of Taixing in Jiangsu Province, a knife-wielding man entered a kindergarten class of four-year-olds and slashed 29 children, leaving five in critical condition, and three teachers. The attacker, a 47-year-old man unemployed since 2001, entered the school with a 20-centimeter knife after stabbing a security guard at the school. Two teachers that tried to stop him were also hurt. The attacker, Xu Yuyuan, was executed in June 2010.
On April 30, a farmer injured five kindergarten students with a hammer before burning himself to death in attack at a school in Weifang city in Shandong Province. The farmer entered the school by ramming a motorcycle through the entrance gate and grabbed two children after pouring gasoline on himself. Fortunately teachers wee able to pull the children away before he set fire to himself.
On April 29, a teacher with mental problems on sick leave since 2006, broke into a primary school in Leizhou city in Guangdong Province and stabbed 16 students and a teacher with a knife. Some of the victims had been stabbed in the back, neck and head and nine suffered life-threatening wounds. On April 12, a mentally-ill man hacked to death a second-grader and an elderly woman with a meat cleaver in southern Guangxi and wounded five other people. The attacker, Chen Kangbing, was sentenced to death in June 2010.
On March 23, 2010 eight children were stabled to death and five others were injured by a former surgeon who went on a rampage at an elementary school in Naping City in Fujian Province in southern China. The attacker showed up at the school as children were arriving and mingled with students and parents before pulling out a knife and slashing children, according to witnesses on local television. The attacker, 42-year-old Zheng Minsheng, was executed on the same day as his trial, in Leizhou. In his trial he said he committed the crime because he was upset about being jilted by a woman and treated poorly by her family. [Source: AP]
Blame and Response to Attacks on Children in China in 2010
Many of the attacks of children have been blamed on people with grudges with local governments or mental problems. Zhou Xiaozheng, a sociology professor at Renmin University in Beijing told AP, it was not clear why schools were targeted but usually such attacks occur in clusters, with one attack triggering several copy cat attacks. “It’s like suicide, which is another type of mental health problem than spread in a community. Normally, with these kind of violent events we hope he media won’t blow them up too much. Because that tend to make it spread.” he said.
Michael Wines told the New York Times, “Most of the assaults have occurred along China urbanized east coast, where wealth disparities are most visible and social pressures presumably at their peak. The government convened a panel of 22 experts in April to investigate the attacks. A subtext to some of the attacks appears to have been resentment of the rich or powerful. The first attacker confessed that he acted in fury after being rejected by his girlfriend wealthy parents, and targeted a primary school that was attended mostly by children of the well-off.” [Source: Michael Wines, New York Times, August 4, 2010]
“But analysts have yet to find a coherent theme to the assaults, aside from speculation by criminologists and sociologists that some are so-called copycat attacks and that they highlight the lack of adequate mental-health care in a nation where psychiatrists are rare and mental hospitals are often warehouses for the sick. State-run media reacted to the first attack last March with anger, grief and a series of articles that sought to explain what could motivate such a horrific crime. But as the attacks continued, censors clamped down on news coverage and played up state efforts to combat violence and social upheaval.” [Ibid]
The China government responded to the attacks by ordering tighter security at the nation’s schools. According to an AP, security cameras and intruder alarms were installed st schools in Fujian Province, police armed with pepper spray patrolled schools in Jiangxi and police officers and vans were placed outside school gates in Chongqing. Several men were detained for threatening children after security was heightened.
Another Attack on Children in 2010
Kindergarten murders In August 2010, three children and one teacher were killed and 11 people, including two children in critical condition, were injured by a knife-wielding attacker at a kindergarten in Zibo, Shandong Province in eastern China. The attacker was a 27-year-old man, was reported to have turned himself in.The attack was the sixth in a string of school assaults in 2010. [Source: AFP, New York Times]
Michael Wines told the New York Times, “Details of the incident were sparse and sometimes conflicting. But postings on one blog stated that the kindergarten, said to be in one of Zibo most affluent communities, was limited to the children of local government officials. That was later confirmed by Li Heping, a noted lawyer and defender of human-rights activists in Beijing, who said in a telephone interview that he had been in touch with a friend in Zibo...Reports of the Zibo attacks offered varying tolls of the dead, the injured and the number of assailants.” [Source: Michael Wines, New York Times, August 4, 2010]
“The attack apparently took place about 4 p.m.,” Wines wrote, “when, as security guards at were on a break, up to three men entered the suburban Boshan district experimental kindergarten and stabbed two teachers, then turned on the children. Internet accounts said the school deputy director died, and some reports said that as many as 20 people had been slashed before the attacker or attackers fled. Two teachers who sought to shield the children from the assault were reported to be among those who were seriously wounded...As occurred after other recent knifings, after the attack in Zibo, the government swiftly slapped a news blackout on the case, blocking all accounts of the attacks on the Internet and banning all photographs of the bloodshed.
The attack was the sixth in a string of school assaults in 2010. Between March 23 and the Zibo attack at least 18 children, all of kindergarten or primary-school age , and 5 adults have died in the bizarre series of attacks and at least 66 other children have been wounded.
Eight Children Wounded in Attack at a Chinese Daycare Center in 2011
In August 2011, a worker slashed children with a knife at a daycare center for migrant workers in eastern China, wounding eight of them. Reports said the female attacker had suffered a "psychotic episode." AP reported: A worker slashed children with a knife at a daycare center for migrant workers in eastern China on Monday, wounding eight of them, one seriously. The attack happened at noon at an informal daycare center in Shanghai's suburban Minhang district, home to many migrant workers.”
The woman was taken into custody. Of the eight children sent to the hospital for treatment, four suffered light injuries and one was relatively seriously hurt, but none faced life-threatening injuries, the official Xinhua News Agency and local reports said. Shanghai's Dragon TV showed children's clothing at the hospital covered with blood. Doctors said they had to cut off the clothes quickly to treat the children's injuries.
Image Source: YouTube
Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, Lonely Planet Guides, Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.
© 2008 Jeffrey Hays
Last updated November 2012