Chinese Police Parade Suspected Covid Rule-Breakers Through Streets

Armed police in southern China publicly shamed people in the streets this week, a practice long banned in the country that was common during the Cultural Revolution. 

Police paraded four alleged Covid rule-violators through the streets in Jingxi, a city in the southern Guangxi province. This practice was banned but has been resurfacing lately, especially in the push for a zero-Covid policy. Wearing white hazmat suits with large placards of their names and photos hung around their neck, the four were marched through the city by armed riot police. 

Videos showed that two police officers, also dressed in hazmat suits and wearing face shields, held onto each violator as they paraded them. Even more armed police surrounded the group, all dressed in full riot gear. 

Authorities said the four men smuggled people against the country’s closed borders. 

The Community party-affiliated Beijing News said that the public shaming “seriously violates” the law, and cannot be allowed to happen again. But this has not been the sole occasion for public humiliation or public shaming in relation to the Covid pandemic. It resurfaced in August as part of measures announced by the local government to enforce discipline and punish those who violate anything related to Covid mandates. 

China banned the public shaming of criminal suspects 12 years ago in 2010, following an intense campaign by human rights activists. During the Cultural Revolution, public shame parades were notorious and common practice. In the 1980s, authorities made public shaming part of the execution process to crack down on criminal offenses. 

The events this week have worried human rights experts that China is once again descending into using public shaming as a common practice. 

Chinese citizens took to the internet to accuse the government of acting heavy-handedly. The shame parade trended this week on Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter. 

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