Chengguan are an urban management force installed in almost every city on mainland China. They mostly clamp down on illegal street vendors but also enforce rules on city sanitation, landscaping and parking. Chengguan officers have been increasingly criticised after some of them used bullying tactics that have resulted in injuries and sometimes death.
Video: Chinese officers filmed stamping on bike shop owner's head are sacked
A video clip of a chengguan para-civilian police officer jumping on the head of a defenceless man has re-fuelled a long debate about brutality by the urban management force in China.
Following an outcry over the viral video, the Urban Management Bureau in Yanan said on Tuesday that it had fired five chengguan and promised a criminal investigation of the assault.
The victim is the owner of an upscale bicycle store in the city, in northern China's Shaanxi province. The shop specialises in bicycles produced by Taiwanese manufacturer Merida. On April 31, a group of chengguan confiscated five bicycles outside his store, saying they obstructed the path for pedestrians, the Southern Metropolis Daily reported.
When the shop owner tried to stop the officials from taking the bikes away, he was beaten and struck to the ground, and one official jumped on his head.
The clip of the incident was among the most widely shared videos on Chinese social media since Tuesday, posted by tens of thousands of microbloggers.
Police did not elaborate on the victim's claims that the chengguan who jumped in what could have been a fatal blow reeked of alcohol, but said the officials had been only a contractor.
The incident is one of many in which chengguan, a para-civilian police force tasked with enforcing municipal bylaws such as waste disposal, hawking and car parking, have resorted to excessive violence in exercising their duties.
In April, chengguan in Sichuan's provincial capital Chengdu were filmed beating a street peddler with wooden batons and denying it moments later. In March, the city government of Zhaotong, Yunnan province, apologised after its chengguan were caught on camera beating a homeless, blind man.