A public punishment as an example to all.
Four men detained by authorities in a southern Chinese province, accused of helping other people enter the country illegally across the border, they were displayed on the streets, a measure that sparked controversy over the public humiliation of those involved.
The alleged criminals were taken through the streets of the small city of Jingxi (Guangxi province) on Tuesday, near the border with Vietnam, wearing protective suits against high-risk threats that symbolized the danger of covid-19.
They also wore signs with their photo and name both in front and on their backs, and their arms were taken from behind by two policemen each.
The officers also wore full protective suits.
China’s borders are closed in large part due to Beijing’s zero covid policy, which implies not living with the virus in a controlled way – as most governments in the world seek – but rather detecting absolutely each case, isolating it and that there is no community circulation.
The country also has a strong vaccination program that already reaches 86% of its population with the full schedule.
“It can’t be allowed to happen again”
The humiliation provoked mixed reactions, including in the state media.
The Guangxi Daily, a government daily, said that the “disciplinary action deterred border-related crimes and further enhanced the awareness of the masses about combating human smuggling and conscientious compliance with the prevention and control of epidemics “.
But the Beijing News, also state-owned, said “the measure seriously violates the spirit of the rule of law and cannot be allowed to happen again.”
In the Chinese social network Weibo, a hashtag in this regard was a trend in the day. Some said the practice reminded them of the public humiliations of years ago, while others sympathized with the efforts needed to control the virus near the border.
“Scarier than parading down the street are the many comments supporting this approach,” wrote one user.
The Jingxi Public Security Bureau and the local government defended the move, claiming it was a “disciplinary warning activity,” according to local media.
The city government had announced in August a series of disciplinary measures to punish those who violate sanitary measures, and the exhibition in the streets was one of them.
But China banned all kinds of public humiliation of suspected criminals in 2010, although some local governments resumed these practices in a pandemic.
China, the country where covid-19 was first discovered at the end of 2019, registered a total of 4,849 deaths and 114,365 cases in these two years, with 203 new infections reported on Tuesday, according to official government figures.
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