China city stripped of 'civilized' title after brutal attack on women

A UN report attributed gender-based violence to deeply-rooted gender norms in China - a country where domestic violence was only made a criminal offence in 2016

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Friday, June 24, 2022, 02:08 PM IST
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Footage from the restaurant in the northern Chinese city of Tangshan on 10 June | Weibo

The northern Chinese city of Tangshan has been stripped of a national honorary title as the fallout from the assault of four women at a restaurant earlier this month continued.

A group of women were having dinner together when one of them was approached by a male diner. Recoiling from his touch, she said "go away".

In return, he clubbed her in the head, throwing her to the ground. His friends then joined him, using chairs and bottles to hit the women, some of whom were then dragged outside and kicked in the head.

It was just the latest example of violence against women that's outraged the Chinese public - in January, news of a woman found chained in a shack sparked similar distress.

Civilized city no more

The civilisation office of the Communist party of China’s central committee announced on Wednesday it had decided to remove Tangshan from the list of “national civilised cities” – the highest recognition for a Chinese city.

“The honour of a civilised city belongs to all citizens and cannot be smeared or desecrated,” said China City News, a news outlet under the official People’s Daily. “When facing so many problems, Tangshan clearly did not show the warmth of a [civilised] city.”

First established by the ruling Communist Party in 2005, a national civilized city title is widely regarded as the highest honorary title a Chinese city could receive from the central government. Cities are reportedly judged on several factors, including their government effectiveness, intellectual capital, image and integrity.

Only 290 out of all the 600 cities, districts and towns in China have reportedly received the title as of October 2021. Given only once every three years, Tangshan has been granted the recognition four consecutive times, with its most recent occurring in 2020.

Violence against women a growing problem

A 2013 UN study involving 1,000 men in a county in central China found that more than half admitted to physical or sexual violence against their partner - a similar number also said they would use violence to defend their honour.

The UN report attributed gender-based violence to deeply-rooted gender norms in China - a country where domestic violence was only made a criminal offence in 2016.

The assault has put Tangshan in a national spotlight. In the last few days, Chinese media reported that one of the accused – whose surname is Chen – had been previously involved in other legal cases, including money laundering.

The revelation prompted the city’s local party committee to call for the incident to be investigated “deeply to find out which government officials have had interests and relations with Chen and other [suspects]”.

Nine people were arrested the day after the attack, including the assailants’ two female companions who did not participate in the violence.

Chen Jizhi, one of the arrested men, was reportedly discovered to be a fugitive wanted by the Chinese police for an assault in 2015. He was also found to be a blacklisted debtor, as shown by government records.

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