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Chinese judge suspended over social media swipe at traffic policeman

Swift punishment meted out as nation prepares for annual legislative meetings

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 February, 2017, 6:00pm
UPDATED : Monday, 27 February, 2017, 6:08pm

A Chinese judge has been suspended after he mocked on social media a picture of a traffic police officer working in heavy snow.

The punishment, which is unusually harsh even by Chinese government standards, came ahead of the annual meeting in Beijing of the legislature, the National People’s Congress, and it appears to be another example of the authorities attempting to strictly control comments and actions by cadres deemed embarrassing to the authorities.

Li Bingxiang, a judge at intermediate court in Lijiang in Yunnan province, ridiculed pictures of the police officer working in the snow in Shaanxi province that were published on the social media account of People’s Daily on Saturday.

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The pictures of the 57-year-old officer triggered praise from others about his dedication to duty.

Li wrote on his social media account: “When a 57-year-old policeman is on duty in the wind and snow, there could be three explanations.

“Firstly, [he]was receiving punishment due to mistakes; secondly, he was trying to make a show; and thirdly, it was a show.”

Li’s employer issued a statement the same day to say he had been suspended and would be dealt with “seriously”.

The court statement also said Li had made wrong comments that had hurt the policeman.

Li later apologised on his Weibo account and pledged not “to disseminate the remarks inconsistent with the interests of the party and the nation”.

“My wrong comments hurt the feelings of an old comrade and his family,” he wrote.

The punishment may also be related to concerns in Lijiang about its public image.

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The tourist town made national headlines after two women tourists were beaten after eating at a restaurant in Lijiang in November. The authorities announced earlier this month that it would take measures to properly regulate the tourist trade and clean up its image.

There have been several examples in recent months of officials and intellectuals facing rebuke for comments deemed inappropriate by the authorities.

Deng Xiangchao, a professor at Shandong Jianzhu University, was forced to retire after he criticised the legacy of Mao Zedong in December. Liu Yong, a TV producer in Henan province, was fired after defending Deng.

The outspoken Chinese businessman Ren Zhiqiang was punished by the Communist Party ahead of the National People’s Congress last year for criticising President Xi Jinping who had said the media must be totally loyal to the party.