Arrest and beating of elderly Chinese-American man in New York prompts mixed reaction online

Internet users react to pictures of the violent arrest of an 84-year-old Chinese-American man for jaywalking on Broadway with official media saying things would be different in China

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 January, 2014, 1:30pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 January, 2014, 1:33pm

Thousands of internet users in the mainland have reacted to the beating and arrest of an elderly Chinese-American man for jaywalking in New York.

Eighty-four-year-old Wong Kang-chun was arrested on Sunday for walking a red light at a dangerous intersection on Broadway.

Witnesses said he could not understand the police’s English commands to stop and a struggle ensued. Several more policemen then entered the fray.

Photos show Wong with blood running down the side of his face. He was taken to hospital, where he received four stitches, and was charged with four offences: jaywalking, resisting arrest, obstructing governmental administration, and disorderly conduct.

A Sina poll showed a majority 31 per cent of the more than 30,000 respondents sided with the police. Twenty-six per cent thought the police overreacted, considering Wong did not understand English.

One Weibo user wrote, “Age is not a royal pardon.”

But another pointed out that internet users thought the police’s use of violence against Wong was justified but were up in arms about China’s urban management officers’ violent treatment of street vendors. “In the US, we can easily understand the legal system,” she said. “In China, everyone hopes for a legal system. But when you really run into trouble, the legal system [is] just treated like a fart.”

Another asked why “foreign loving dogs” applauded the police. “It really makes me sick,” he wrote. “In China, if the police beat an 80-year-old man, they would be criticised to death.”

The level of response even prompted party mouthpiece The Global Times to write an editorial.

“Things might be the other way around if the same incident happened in China,” the conservative daily wrote. “The local police would be charged with abuse of power, and the head of the local police department would have to apologise and the errant police officers could be punished or even sacked.”

The newspaper also chided internet users for blaming Wong: “Chinese public opinion needs to build self-dignity instead of sending ridicule and blame when its own compatriots get into trouble overseas.”