China: "citizen journalist" beaten to death

Wei Wenhua was beaten to death after he snapped photos of a confrontation on the street between village residents and authorities. His death has sparked controversy in Chinese media, and the blogosphere:
Wei Wenhua was a model communist and is now a bloggers' hero -- a "citizen journalist" turned martyr. The construction company manager was driving his car when he witnessed an ugly scene: a team of about 50 city inspectors beating villagers who tried to block trucks from unloading trash near their homes.

Wei took out his cell phone and began taking pictures. The city inspectors saw Wei and then attacked him in a beating that lasted five minutes. By the time it was over, the 41-year-old Wei was slumped unconscious. He was rushed to the hospital but was dead on arrival.

Link to CNN report by Jaime FlorCruz, here's an item from the China Media Project, and here's a statement from Reporters Without Borders.


  1. People talk about China rising. The nation is such a long way from civility in so many ways, it seems to be going backwards.

  2. I really want to visit china someday. Its got such a diverse ecosystem. I just wouldn’t feel right about visiting under the current regime.

    of course that makes me feel hypocritical because i do after all live here under the current regime.

  3. Most of the people I’ve heard talking about China rising are thinking of the riches that capitalists can earn off the underpaid and poorly treated laborers. Very little of it is to the benefit of your average Chinese individual. Some of the economic activity does benefit a portion of the populace, but as a percentage of the citizens it’s not much.

  4. This is horrible news.

    Capt: While I agree our current “regime” (I asume you are also American) is far from the best we could have, we have a system for electing a new regime every 4 years, it apears under the communist regime in China they do not.

  5. Cpt. Tim, next time you hear about garbage men beating civilians to death for taking pictures here in the United States, give us all a ring.

  6. Somewhere, someone at Yahoo! is thinking…damn, they killed him before we got a chance to out him to the Chinese authorities.

  7. I can’t hold my bitter laugh back when I saw a picture of the government’s grand new hall, with the symbol of the hammer and sickle high on its walls. Do those traitors even remember what that means anymore?

  8. sorry my english, im from peru, one time ago i went to a restaurant and when i paid the bill, unfortunately i spoke louder to the chinese owner, and then came in two more chineses and gave me a beating, it was a cowardice…since then, and by other things (first polluting country, children at work, toys for children with lead, etc) i dont really like chineses, i know i can’t generalize, but i don’t think philosophy “anything is valid for the money” makes a country rising…this man was beating for a brutal attitude, for stupid men…

  9. My coworker, who is of Chinese descent and speaks, reads, and writes Mandarin and Cantonese fluently, worked in China for a few years. Her take on these things is that communism has ruined the country. It has made a nation of poverty-stricken, greedy people, with no particular respect (only fear) of authority, and an attitude that everything is someone else’s (the state’s / society’s) problem. So there’s no problem poisoning your food products, because, hey, the welfare of your customers is someone else’s problem. And what if the customers are in another country? Well, what can you possibly expect from a country whose name in the local language is “The Central Country” (“Middle Kingdom” is a cute mistranslation–that’s not the nuance of those characters)?

    I love Chinese history. I like Chinese people. I’ve been to China a few times, and always have a good time (and amazing food). But that is a country with severe problems that they didn’t use to have, and (in my opinion, anyway), it’s all on account of Mao, who was a vile dictatorial despotic bastard masquerading as one of “the people.”

  10. This could have easily happened in Chicago. Fly dumpers don’t like their pictures taken and they could easily beat somebody up for taking their picture.

  11. @MOON

    That’s my point. Obviously, the government of China is corrupt and malignant, and what happened to Mr Wei is awful. But awful things happen in all countries, and I doubt most bb readers, including me, can put this in the right perspective.

  12. I love the irony of this– he was taking pictures to document (and presumably publicize) the skirmish, so they beat him to death to stop the publicity, but only caused (I’m sure) far more publicity.

  13. re: #14 posted by mrfitz

    In Ancient England, one rebel could result in the entire family being declared traitors,out of flavour. In Ancient China, it’s much more systematic, whole /clans/ can be beheaded for the crime of one, it could extend to in-laws of in-laws. They don’t officially do this nowadays, but were a villager to intervene, he or she could be endangering more than him/herself. Even vocal dissidents aboard get ‘hello phonecalls’ from officials back home with their family.

    During the Cultural Revolution, which was when China went irreversibly, psychologically and morally damaged at a whole, children were called onto denounce their parents. Some did it because they were immature and or their parents give them little cause for love, some did it at the egging of their own parents so that they can survive.

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