Eighteen members of China’s chengguang urban management force were hospitalised earlier this week after they were sprayed with sulfuric acid in Fujian province’s Xiamen city.
News of the incident first hit the Chinese internet on October 16, when a user nicknamed “xao xiaoxiang” posted word of the attack on Sina Weibo, The Beijing Times reported.
“In the early morning today in the Tong’an district of Xiamen city, three chengguan officers were attacked with sulfuric acid and are now receiving medical assistance in the hospital,” the post read.
Later media reports by China Daily said that 19 officers had been wounded by the acid and 18 had been sent to hospital, and the attack had occurred as the chengguan were carrying out a “joint law enforcement action by the Urban Management Bureau of Tong’an district and the land department.”
The Beijing Times reported that the officers all had varying degrees of burns, and hospital footage later showed that the men had mostly received injuries on their faces, backs, necks and arms.
Local Xiamen police confirmed that the officers were still in hospital but declined to comment on particulars regarding the case or the reasons behind the attack, and investigations are currently ongoing.
China’s chengguan, installed in nearly every mainland city, have gained notoriety in the past year for using excessive force and bullying tactics in dealing with public protests and illegal street injuries.
In July, a Hunan watermelon vender died from injuries sustained after clashing with local chengguan, causing an uproar that saw hundreds of locals take to the streets in anger.
Sina Weibo users commenting on this latest development pointed out the irony of chengguan now being victims of violence themselves, and one vehement poster said that it was “a good thing” that the officers were now “suffering pain and despair”.
“Chengguan have indeed committed many misconducts, but this [attack] of sulfuric acid is too cruel,” a more sympathetic member of the online community wrote.