Driver Violently Arrested & Fined For Helping Stranger

The following covers the controversial arrest of a driver in Shanghai, pseudonym Zhang Jun, who gave a ride to a stranger who claimed to have stomach pains. Dubbed “fishing-gate,” the incident is currently one of the hottest topics in the Chinese blogosphere.

From Adam Schokora’s fifty 5 blog:

In the beginning of September, a driver in Shanghai named Zhang was stopped by a pedestrian who complained that his stomach was killing him and who asked for a ride to the hospital because he couldn’t wait for a taxi. Zhang refused his passenger’s offer of payment, but when he reached the hospital, the passenger grabbed his keys, and the car was surrounded by seven or eight uniformed individuals. Zhang was charged with illegally operating a taxi. In many Chinese cities, unlicensed taxis are frequently targeted by law-enforcement campaigns and their drivers are subject to fines, license suspensions, or even more serious punishment, but this kind of fishing expedition, preying on the good intentions of ordinary citizens, raised the hackles of many netizens who already had a fairly poor opinion of local law enforcement. The situation first came to public attention when Han Han (韩寒), a bestselling author and race car driver who keeps a phenomenally popular blog, posted two letters under the heading “This is certainly just a rumor” on September 11. From Han, who has been named an online public opinion leader by a number of media outlets, the story received immense exposure, and the mainstream press tracked down and verified the story.

chinaSMACK has provided netizen reactions and has translated the conversation between Zhang and the Complaint Unit of the Minheng District Traffic Division:

Response: I still want to ask how your so-called “law enforcement officers” are any different from bandits and robbers? Why did they immediately twist both of my arms back and grab my neck [headlock?]? I asked them to present their arrest warrant but they didn’t have one, and then they pushed me onto a van, I asked them to produce their papers and all they did was flash them from afar while covering the names. I did not break the law, so what right do they have to do all of this?
[Complaint] Unit: That was because you were not cooperating with law enforcement.
R: What law did I break?
U: If you do not cooperate then there is only forceful enforcement.
R: What law did I break?
U: You are suspected of operating a black taxi.
R: If there is only suspicion, then you cannot determine there was a violation of the law. So why did those seven-eight people twist my hands behind my back and hold me by my neck?

Roland Soong of ESWN also provides excellent coverage of the topic with his translation of a Southern Metropolis Daily article titled “Private car owner helped someone out of kindheartedness but was fined 10,000 yuan instead.”

Read the post by Han Han that attracted media attention, This is certainly just a rumor” [CN]. Additionally, read a later related post, This country will welcome National Day, this city will welcome the World Expo” [CN].

For another take on the story, read a blog post by noted journalist Chang Ping, Blacker than ‘black taxis’ is the distortion of power” [CN].

September 19, 2009 9:40 PM
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Categories: CDT Highlights, Law, Society