With weibo (China twitter) roaring high in China, Chinese netizens are now more inclined to share their everyday incidents online with photos. Thus they are ready to take snapshots whenever they see something worth sharing or discussion. However, a law student from Beijing University almost got arrested when trying to take a photo of assumingly cadre’s privilege moment at the train station. The post was first saw on Beijing University BBS, and became topic of the day followed by massive reposting by many others.
“After the ticket checking in Tianjin railway station, I and other passengers were blocked by police from getting on our train. We were told to wait for a while but no one explained why. I took a look around and found the path from an escalator to the soft berth car was cleared. Then it hit me: this was the so called “traffic control” in China. My guess turned out to be correct as few minutes later several cadre-looking guys slowly descended from the escalator and strutted to the soft-berth car. “
The cadres walked slowly by, while the AVERAGE passengers with luggage waiting in the piercing wind. Thinking that this was a classic scene in China (that the government officers enjoy unreasonable privilege), I wanted to capture it with my mobile. But the moment I took it out, a police rushed to me and yelled: ‘No photos. Give me your phone now.’ A policeman in plain clothes also came over and asked me to come with them. “
Thinking this is absolutely unfair, the law student argued with the police and even showing her student ID card for the sake of showing that she was a lawful citizen. But all these effort went in vain. The police even mocked her, “You are a law student? Don’t make me laugh. In my opinion, you don’t even know law. I tell you what, even the journalist here have to get my permission first in order to take pictures.” The law student then got agitated. While the police grabbed her hand, she started screaming, “The police beat me!” That’s a classic line from movies when people and police get in a fight. The well-educated law student was surely terrified and desperate to turn to the line. As she screamed “like a fishwife”-as she describes in her post- more and more onlookers gathered around. The police finally had to let go of her.
Ironically, what finally saved her from the possible wrongful detention is not the legal knowledge she learns but the line from the movie and the pressure from the onlookers.
“As I finally seated in the train, I kept thinking about this whole incident. I have to admit that law and the rules in reality are two different things. I’m legal-illiterate in terms of the ‘law’ from that police’s mouth. What saved me is not the law I study in university, but my screaming. Also I want to thank all those onlookers there. This is the first positive effect of onlookers in China I know. I only hope next time the chengguan (city inspectors in China) confiscate the street vendor’s goods, people would also gather around instead of walking away indifferently.”