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China:Seething Eve on Nankai Campus

Though it is not the first time for a crash between pass-by vehicles and students riding bicycles, in the campus of Nankai University, such a significant accident is unprecedented. Hundreds of restless students, 20 police cars, and a broken, battered Buick sedan marked the seething Christmas Eve of this prominent school.

On the night of 24th, December, a female student unheedingly scratched a non-campus Buick sedan when riding past the Student Activity Center. According to some witnesses, the car, in which sat 2 adults and 2 girls, suddenly turned right and therefore got the scrape, which was about 15cm long. The female driver in a black coat immediately got off and grasped the student, on a demand for apology and compensation. She presumptuously abused the student before calling the police, and the controversy continued till the arrival of the police. During the course, even with the presence of the police, the driver still cursed the student “if my kids were college students like you I’d better throw them away”, and cried “you want a punch-war? Who fears who?” She furthermore threatened “I’ll show my ID card that overawes you!” which later triggered strong indignation against her smug manner of boasting her power.



A group of angry students then circled the car. Exactly at the moment, the male owner of the car slipped away and was later back with several other men who then caught a male student that spoke for the rider and punched him. The daughter of the driver as well got hurt during the chaos. Soon the several offenders caught a chance to run away. The police failed to stop them, a miss that later came to be a trigger, but instead tried to send the beaten student into a police car. More students halted the police and managed to take the student back, who was soon sent to the hospital by am ambulance.

It was now 10 pm. Many school guards were dispatched to pacify the situation while receiving no effect, because thousands of students flooded to the scene after the self-study hour, and all were questioning why the police would let the offender escape. The students howled to require the police to explain their neglecting, and moreover, that a school governor should come out. However, no official had ever come and the police just stood idly by. The neglected students could no longer hold their anger and the long-existed grief against the overbearing drivers. The temper burst out.

The passengers and the driver were removed out of the car. Then furious students stroke the car, smashed the windshield and then even collectively turned over the Buick. Meanwhile no police dared to come up and some teachers who tried to calm the students were pushed out of the circle. The car was damaged to be a bulk of iron.




The time approached to 12 pm. The frightened driver had now remained silent. Not until then did the two headmasters come. One of them spoke through a microphone 3 promises to the students.
1. Students won’t be punished.
2. Improve the traffic condition on the campus.
3. Punish the offenders.


It was 2 pm. Swarms of students still gathered and started singing their school songs. The incident was commented by many alumni a chance for the school to regain their mettle. It was later circulated on many websites, though the related posts were soon filtrated.

However, several famous comments were preserved. They will be translated and put on here tomorrow. You can see Chinese posts about the incident here (many original posts have benn blocked). The news above is written according to these posts. Pictures are from FlyingMonkey.

It was not the first time for a traffic conflict between bicycles and vehicles. According to students there, it was always the students involved finally apologized to the drivers and paid the bill, though the crashes happened on the campus. The accumulated anger undoubtedly fueled the 12.24 incidence.

A post from the net forum Skyline (Tianya天涯) said (the original post got filtrated):

这些开着鸟车发着鸟财的人们,如果想让社会尊重你们,你们也应该学会尊重别人。这个社会允许你们先富起来,允许你们占有比别人多的社会资源,但没有给你们更
大的道德豁免权,你们也没有比我们这些骑着自行车的学生更高的权利。你忘了,在这
个后革命时代,当我们被物质和利益消磨得只能在你们面前唯唯诺诺的时候,你们好像
忘了一些久远戒律的提醒:哪里有压迫,哪里就有反抗。

Those who drive the damn cars and earn bonanza wrongfully should first respect others before you demand others to respect you. The society allows you to get rich more quickly and take up more resources but has never allowed you to be exempt from moral obligation. You don’t deserve more than us students that ride bicycles. You shouldn’t have forgotten, in this post-revolutionary age, when we people worn out by the material interest only have the right to be obsequious to you guys, this rule remains: where there is oppression, there is resistance.

有人说,为什么不好好说话,为什么要打打杀杀?为什么不可以谈判,为什么不好
好提出一个方案?学生们不是不会谈判,他们很多人就是学这个的。学生们不是不会文
雅,他们已经克制得够多了。可是看看那个骂骂咧咧的车主,那个纠集流氓的司机(他
还是酒后驾车),那些唯唯诺诺的警察。
所以,为什么要打打杀杀?很简单,因为没人给你面子!!

Someone questioned why students didn’t sit down and talk but had to resort to violence. The students are not unable to talk and many of them learn how to talk in school. Also, they are not unable to be polite; they have tolerated so much. But please look at the spiteful car owner, the driver that called rogues to beat the students, and those weak-kneed police. So, why did they have to employ violence? Because no one would really care about their rights without doing so!

Another post that appeared on the Nankai campus website soon after the incidence while got blocked later commented:

津F9556,一辆别克车,被砸了!!学生不再沉默!这是出于愤怒的咆哮!
2007年12月24日,南开园发生了一件历史性的事件,无论别人如何将她定位,我为身为
一个南开人而感到自豪!为校友的勇气永远感到骄傲!

Jing-F9556, a Buick car was battered! Students refused to keep silent!This is a growl out of rage!
On 24th, December, 2007, a historic incidence happened on Nankai campus. No matter how others would define it, I am proud of being a student of Nankai University. I am proud of my schoolmates’ courage!

诚然,中国现在实用主义风行。其实,美国人的哲学是什么?就是实用主义!可美国的
大学呢?中美之间的教育差异,难道仅仅体现在量化的科研成果上吗?学校得不到应有
社会地位!如果说像南开这样的学校都得不到,不知道在中国,还有几所学校可以的得
到,如果有很多学校的得到,天津,你是否就需要反省?

Indeed, today pragmatism prevailed in China. However, America adopts pragmatism as well while the universities there never did so (worship the power). Is the margin on education quality between China and America simply lying on the quantitative results of scientific researches? It lies on that schools here get no social status they deserve! How many schools can get what they deserve even if a school like Nankai University could not? If only did Nankai fail on this, should you Tianjing City reexamine yourself?

学生在自己的校园里被打?!荒唐!可笑!可耻!
你们太低估南开学生力量了,数百名学生面对数十辆警车,敢于站在警车前面,绝不让
他们一个学生带走!我为你们自豪!为书生气浓郁的南开园里依然能培养出这么多血气
十足、又有理有据有节的学生感到自豪!

Students got punched on their campus? So ridiculous and shameful! You have underestimated our power! Hundreds of students dared to stand in front of the police cars and halted the police from taking a single student. I am proud of you! I am proud that the bookish campus can cultivate so many students with courage and reason!

17 comments

  • Danwei Picks: 2007-12-28…

    Danwei Picks is a daily digest of the “From the Web” links found on the Danwei homepage. A feed for the…

  • ChinaMann

    The incident reflects one of the social crises/conflicts in China. It is so simple “traffic accident” that could be happend anywhere in the world. Like all the other overreactive events in China, it could absolutely be preventable if everyone in the incident recognize and perform its duties. Let’s see the root casues from angle of general practice of duties. As mentioned, it’s typical traffic accident.

    Event 1 – A car running in Nan Kai Campus

    – Is it a on-campus vehicle? No, it’s from outside.
    – Does the driver have right-of-way driving in the campus. No, she doesn’t. She didn’t have pass permit from the guard.

    Conclusion:
    It’s the guard who ignored its duties and should be kept accountable for and the staff in charge of the security in Nan Kai University should be responsible for it.

    Event 2 – A scratch casued by a riding bicycle while turning right by a car.

    – Is the car driver supposed to respect the right-hand bicycle/passenger when ready to turn right if it’d had been on a normal road? Sure, according to traffic law.
    – Was the traffic police called on site? Yes, it’s
    – Did the traffic police give any mediation, adjudgement and rulling out? No, according to the reporting.

    Conclusion:
    The traffic police didn’t perform its duties.

    Event 3 – Verbal/body reactions between students and driver/her friends.

    – Has the Gong An been called for on site when confronting between the two parties? Yes, it’s.
    – Did the police take any investigation procedures? nothing reported;
    – Does Nan Kai University have any control procedure for on-campus vehicle? Yes, it’s belived.
    – Does Nan Kai University have any ERP (emergency response procedures)? Does’nt seem so, looking from the late coming representative.

    Conclusion:
    – The police should revisit itself if it performs its duties properly or igored of its duties.
    – Nan Kai University should establish its ERP in case of massive diorder of thousands students and should be kept accountable for this time, to some extent.

    The consequences of quarral, body reactions and turning over the car and etc. result from the anger escalating from the root causes and rolling over with complcated feelings of social conflicts.

    Now we can see how important role the public servants and the university faculty play in the society. Further discussion invites..

  • How much do you want to bet the school will end up paying for that car? I can just see the principal telling the students they will not be punished just to get them to calm down and disperse, then going to the car owner and apologizing and offering to compensate her (if the owner is well enough connected).

  • Julia Zhu

    I just have two questions.
    1. why the headmasters had the power to say that those students would not be punished?

    2.From legal perspective, those students did betray the laws since they had rolled over and whipped other people’s possession, although there was a righteous reason for the action. What if the one in the Buick sue to the court? who is going to be the final one responsible for the broken sedan?

  • ChinaMann

    Here is my comments to the above questions:

    1. In front of massive disorder of the students, she couldn’t nothing but calming down the anger.
    2. There shall be investigations over the chain of responsibilities around the incident if following legal procedures.

    Per the root causes, the following parties in a sequence shall be investigated: Guard – Security Head in Nan Kai Uni – Traffic police – Gong An – Headmaster of University – Students finally. As those causual factors if counted properly could prevent from happenning of the car-smashing. Given legal investigation process to all parties other than just one or two of them, the students may inevitably be dealt with legal consequence for damaging action. Let’s wait and see.

  • YEAH!

    I went to Nankai daxue way back in 2001, and I have to say this totally rocks. Any time regular people actually stand up for themselves in China, facing off against these arrogant new rich, who mostly have acquired their money through questionable means, I think this is absolutely wonderful. Gives me hope for a China that really is proud of itself.

  • Harmonious China…

    What’s happening around the nation as one year closes and another begins 2007 is definitely the year…

  • Very interesting reporting, thank you.

    I think inflation-driven unrest is going to become a very big issue in China faster than anybody expects.

  • I should say, all the parties we see in this event are not the root cause of this particular event; they are all only at the phenomenal level.

    The deepest problem that induced the conflicts between status is the impotency and corruption in the community party’s government.

    Why the security system was daunted as the woman explicitly suggested her “special background”?

    I feel it’s difficult to blame on the guards, go-ans, or policemen because they are also the suppresed ones: They are afraid of getting laid off if they dare keep justice.

    Why did they, who are supposed to secure the society and ordinary people, fail to execute their duties?

    These on-site security keepers mostly came from ordinary families, and it costed them time and efforts to obtain such a ‘decent’ job; how can we expect them to pull a tiger’s hair while there could be no promise for their “safety”?

    The actual problems are: Does the government support them? Do the people have the right to back up the officers? Are the politicians willing to support their action?

    As long as the politicians have the pressure from people, as long as people can veto the legitimacy of the government, the system in the country can be established well and officers in this system can be on duty without fear.

    Hence, natrually, when the system is not sound, people can only claim their rights, show their anger, and restore justice, all by themselves.

    This is why the Xmas eve event happened, although this is also a little sad.

    But when I saw the suppressed stood out to do what they ought to do, I felt cheered about China’s future, because the students, conscience of a society, awaked.

  • Jkr

    These guys drive nice car and study at university, but behave like a caveman.For me, this is the biggest international joke on X’mas eve.

    Does it have to do with party corruption? Influence of capitalism? “conscience of a society, awaked”? Or simply a channel to show your anger and another classic case of collective unconsciousness action.

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