Public Shaming Parades Return to the Streets of China Amid COVID-19 Fears

By Victor Westerkamp | December 31, 2021
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border-respassers-public-display-Jingxi-City-Mao-Great-Cultural-Revolution-naming-shaming
Alleged border regulation trespassers on public display in southern Jingxi City on Dec. 28, a scene that brings back to memory the days of Mao’s Great Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) when naming and shaming people for perpetrating the most futile misdemeanors was a way of life. (Image: video still of Anonyme Citoyen on Twitter)

The days of the Cultural Revolution seem to be back after several reports emerged of alleged human smugglers, who violated COVID-19 rules, were put on display at a parade in several border towns including the cities of Jingxi and Dongxing.

One particular incident took place on Dec. 28 and involved four alleged perpetrators dressed in white hazmat suits carrying their portrait and a description of their crimes printed on placards hung around their necks. The prisoners were escorted by two policemen each also dressed in protective suits.

Reportedly, the four prisoners on display in Jingxi City, in southern Guangxi Province were accused of human smuggling possibly related to transporting people across the Vietnam border violating China’s tight lockdown regulations.

“Guangxi News said the cortege offered a ‘real-life warning’ to the crowd and ‘deterred border-related crimes,’” France 24 reported.

Other parades

Also visible in the video is a pick-up truck carrying what appears to be prisoners in hazmat suits enclosed in a cage. On the van, texts were painted reading “severely punish border-related crimes and maintain border harmony and stability” and “Jingxi city 2021 border-related case scene punishment activities.” 

This wasn’t the first time alleged offenders were paraded down the streets of Jinxi in such a way. Similar displays of public shaming took place in August and November, according to reports on the Jinxi municipality’s website and videos posted to social media by the municipality.

Another video surfaced on Thursday purportedly showing four inmates being put on display in hazmat suits in Dongxing city, a town located directly on the border with Vietnam. According to the poster, Songpinganq, the four had tried to flee the country.

Songpinganq also posted a video from a similar incident that took place on Dec. 24 in Pingxiang City.

“People who are watching are shouting ‘beat them to death,’” the author wrote. ”Because of them we got covid…They are heavily brainwashed.” 

In all instances, the suspects were first paraded through the streets and then brought to a square cordoned off by heavily armed police officers. Meanwhile, an official would read their allegations aloud, with the audience standing by at a safe distance.

State media admitted the atrocities in Southern Guangxi province, which borders Vietnam.

The display evoked mixed reactions on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like social media.

“What is more terrifying than parading the street is the many comments that support this approach,” one Weibo user wrote.

Nonetheless, local administrators had “gone far beyond the scope of ‘discipline following the law’” and would be accordingly disciplined, state-run Beijing News reported.

Even for the sake of epidemic deterrence, it is not suitable to “parade the streets to show the public,” Beijing News said, adding that “The measure seriously violates the spirit of the rule of law and cannot be allowed to happen again.” 

However, the Jingxi City Public Security Bureau upheld the public sentencing, reasoning it was an “on-site disciplinary warning activity” and that there was no “inappropriateness.”