Guizhou authorities are investigating reports that a 13-year-old girl was put in handcuffs and publicly humiliated after accidentally spilling cola on a rural official’s car.
The inquiry was launched after photos of the girl, bound at the hands and escorted by a group of men through a street, began spreading on the internet early last month, the Southern Metropolis Daily reported on Monday.
The girl was accused of accidentally spilling cola on the car of Yuan Zehong, party secretary of Heqiang county's Kele township, on March 30. This prompted Yuan’s men to “handcuff her and force her to walk up and down on the street for 20 minutes”, the reports said.
Yuan confirmed to media that the girl was handcuffed on that day, but denied publicly humiliating her and said they were just taking her to the police car.
He said his staff didn't know the girl was a minor because “she looked big”.
The incident, he later added, was “not as simple as the girl spilling water onto the car by accident” and suggested it could have been related to an earlier scuffle between law enforcement officials and the girl’s parents - both street vendors.
Local residents told reporters that clashes between law enforcement officials, and farmers and street vendors had become increasingly common because of illegal land grabs.
A petition calling for the investigation of Yuan has gathered more than a thousand signatures.
State broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) said on Tuesday in a microblog that Yuan and a policeman named Chen Song have been suspended from duty.