chinaSMACK, Bus Driver Beatdowns, and Provincialism in Wuhan

chinaSMACK is one of my favorite new China blogs. It translates some of the hot topics in China’s online forums and bulletin boards, complete with pictures, video, and numerous reader comments translated from the original Chinese posts. The author seems to favor the more lurid stories, such as a confrontation in Wuhan between a Wuhan bus driver and several passengers. Check out the video (the attack begins at about 1m25s):

There is a follow-up post which examines the possibility that the bus driver insulted the girls in the video:

Last week, video footage from Wuhan bus line 519 showed two Northeastern men from Heilongjiang Province ruthlessly beating and kicking the female bus driver. Chinese across the country were outraged, many calling Northeastern Chinese violent animals. But, some Chinese wondered if the video showed the whole truth, noticing that parts of the video recording was cut out.

Soon, other posters claiming to have been on the bus when the beating happened told a different story about what really happened that day between the Wuhan bus driver, the two Northeastern girls, and the two Northeastern young men who eventually beat her.

A couple things from the translated user comments struck me. First, they reveal the strong regional attitudes and stereotypes (Wuhanese as rude; Northeastern girls in other cities as prostitutes) that rarely are reported in English language news about China. Second, many of the users quoted seem to think that, if the bus driver did insult the girls, then it was either acceptable or at least understandable that she was repeatedly and viciously kicked in the head.

Finally, some commenters argued that the attacked must have been justified because no one else stepped in to stop it:

If it was really like how it was reported, that the female bus driver was completely justified and in the weaker position, that the young men attacked her, why did none of the many people on the bus come out and prevent/stop it? Not even anyone to say a word? The answer is obvious, that although the driver was weaker, she was unreasonable, and even her words and performance made the other passengers on the bus feel dissatisfied, such as being tough or viciously cursing people. Of course, it also possible the other passengers were just different and wanted to avoid causing trouble for themselves.

Personally, I think the final sentence is closer to the truth. In eight years of observing fights in China, I have seen crowds gather to watch even the hint of a fight, but I have never seen anyone step in and try to break up a seriously violent fight.

3 Replies to “chinaSMACK, Bus Driver Beatdowns, and Provincialism in Wuhan”

  1. I have to agree with Nator’s final comments there. From what I have witnessed in China there is a distinct tendency to simply not interfere in fights, even if it is 2 guys bashing a woman’s face in with their boots, no matter how “unreasonable” she was.

    I witnessed a “fight” about a year ago, here are my recollections:

    I was waiting for a friend outside the Kempinski in Beijing, a well-known 5 star hotel with an adjoined high-end shopping mall. As I was waiting, a guy started chasing a woman into the parking lot, he was shouting at her but I could not make out what he was saying. He then started pulling her aggressively by the hand trying to pull her in the direction they came from. At this point it was starting to get violent, but the 4 or so security guards and several parking attendants simply ignored what was happening under their noses. I was a little reluctant to get involved as I didn’t feel my Chinese was good enough to handle the situation. A few seconds later the man grabbed the woman by her scarf and pulled her face down into the pavement, where she remained motionless.

    At that point I started running over there and just started screaming randomly into the air trying to get people involved. One old Taitai later joined me and started shouting at the guards to do something. At this point the aggressor has already realized he has gone too far and backed off.

    Approximately 5 minutes later the police arrived, and made the aggressor and the woman “tan shi’r” or discuss the situation… no arrests were made to the best of my knowledge. All I know is that the guy was a taxi driver and the woman hit his car with her bicycle…

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