Uproar after Guizhou official Chen Mingming calls critics 'human scumbags'
A vice-governor in southwestern Guizhou province sparked an online controversy yesterday when he branded unpatriotic internet users as "human scumbags" on his weibo account.
"Some people like nothing more than hyping up problems in their own country," Vice-Governor Chen Mingming wrote on his Sina Weibo microblog. "They are used to making a fuss out of every problem that arises. The point is that [we] rarely hear about problems in the heaven-like United States, such as yet another shooting rampage against innocent people."
The row started with Chen's repost of news about Saturday's gun attack in Miami, Florida, in which a man shot dead six neighbours before he was gunned down by police.
"Why is there another mass shooting in the US?" Chen wrote, prompting the reply from another microblooger: "Why is there another violent attack by chengguan in China?"
Public anger over violent incidents involving urban management officers, or chengguan, evicting beggars and unlicensed hawkers from public areas reached new heights over the weekend after a father claimed that he was beaten in front of his nine-year-old daughter as they sold lamps on the street as part of her summer holiday school project in central Beijing.
Recent attacks by chengguan left a hawker dead in Hunan province and another severely injured in Harbin , capital of northern Heilongjiang province.
Chen replied: "Some people curse their own country every day, but they continue to stay here rather than move to the US! [They should] go to America as fast as they can! But first they should have plastic surgery they won't be recognised as Chinese.
"Some people don't love their own country, and feel upset about being a Chinese. So just let them go to the US, the faster the better! Human scumbags!"
Chen's words drew a strong reaction online, with most wondering how a government official could call citizens "scum", while others called for an investigation into Chen's wealth, in reference to growing discontent among mainlanders against "naked officials" - cadres who accumulate their wealth through corruption and move their own families overseas.
"I think [we can] have an investigation into the vice-governor's family and wealth, which are probably in the US," one microblogger suggested.
"Please do," Chen answered, which attracted nearly 2,000 microbloggers clicking "like" and more than 20,000 comments.
Although some suspected that Chen's account has been hacked, a Guizhou government information officer said that "the microblog was managed by the vice -governor himself".
Chen also won some support from internet users. "Glad to see officials at vice-governor-level willing to open microblogs, which takes courage," wrote one.
In response to the online criticism, Chen published a lengthy post later in the afternoon in which he apologised for his "inappropriate remarks".
"I am a normal internet user who loves microblogging," Chen said, "but I am also a vice-governor and I should be more careful and more responsible with my choice of words."
Chen who started microblogging in late 2009, has more than 280,000 followers on Sina Weibo, one of the most popular sites.