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Steelyard weight

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“The people have steelyard weights in their hearts” (Qiuqingzi)

秤砣 (chèngtúo) steelyard weight

On July 17, 2013, watermelon vendor Deng Zhengjia was killed by chengguan urban management officials in Linwu, Hunan province. Witnesses reported that the fatal blow came from an official who used Deng's own steelyard weight to strike him in the head. After Deng died, bystanders guardeed his body to prevent confiscation by local officials, and street clashes ensued. This incident further stoked public fury at chengguan officials' abuse of power in China, and China's Internet censors quickly issued directives for the deletion of content related to the fruit vendor's death.

Deng's case became highly publicized, and numerous cartoons commenting on Deng's fate and the role of chengguan in society began circulating on social media. Looking back to 2011, media commentators compared him to Mohamed Bouazizi, the Tunisian fruit vendor whose police harassment-inspired self-immolation reverberated on social media to catalyze the Arab Spring.

In December of 2013, four chengguan officials received prison sentences of up to 11 years for their roles in the death of Deng Zhengjia.