Chinese ‘Nazi soldier’ arrested for posing in German uniform at memorial park
- Man, 18, said he was just having fun, but police unimpressed and social media users outraged
- China introduced new legislation last year to protect national martyrs and heroes
An 18-year-old Chinese man has been detained for wearing a German military uniform at a park dedicated to war heroes in eastern China and posting images of his “offensive” behaviour on social media.
The incident happened on Sunday night in Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang province, when the man, identified only as Li and said to be from the central Chinese province of Henan, visited Beiganshan Martyrs Memorial Park in the Xiaoshan district of the city, according to a police statement.
He was dressed in a military uniform from an indeterminable time period, but which appeared to be German in origin and had Nazi-style motifs.
After taking photographs of himself and a friend against the wintry backdrop, Li uploaded them to social media, along with the comment: “It’s freezing to death but I feel content”.
His post was spotted the following day by an angry internet user who shared it on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like service, with the comment: “Taking pictures in military uniform with Nazi logos in a martyrs park??? If this is not defiling martyrs I don’t know what is.”
The response was seen by police in Xiaoshan who tracked Li down and arrested him on Monday afternoon for the crime of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”.
Li said he had not intended to upset anyone and had worn the uniform “for fun”, according to the police statement.
A report by news website Thepaper.cn said Li’s friend escaped punishment after the police ruled he was oblivious to the uniform’s significance. In contrast, the police statement described Li as a military enthusiast.
Some social media users said Li had been harshly treated, pointing to the fact that the uniform, despite its Nazi emblem, was not from the second world war. But the police were unimpressed.
“Some people tried to muddy the water by saying the uniform was not worn during the second world war, but they turned a blind eye to the fact that [he] went to a memorial park wearing the military uniform of another country,” the statement said.
Li’s actions were an offence under the Heroes and Martyrs Protection Law, which went into effect in May, it said.
The case is not the first of its kind in China. In October, a man was arrested for leading a parade of people dressed as Japanese imperial soldiers in east China’s Jiangsu province, while in February, two men were detained for 15 days for “severely hurting national feelings” after posing in Japanese uniforms in front of a memorial in Nanjing, where about 300,000 Chinese were massacred during the Japanese invasion.