China: Eluding the Cat Investigation, Netizen's Power or Government PR?

In response to the netizens’ talks and comments about the “eluding cat” incident, the Yunnan provincial Publicity Department's Press and Publication Administration decided to form an investigative committee on Feb 20. Moreover, the department had invited netizens to form a investigative committee. In a few hours, 510 netizens registered to be involved in the committee, and the Yunnan government randomly selected 8 netizens and public members as part of the committee, together with 3 official representatives and 3 media representatives. The incident of course shows how netizens’ power in giving pressure to the government, however, many doubt the investigative committee being a PR show for cooling down the public discontent.

Eluding the cat incident

ESWN has translated “eluding the cat” incident on 17 of Feb. In brief, a young Yunnan man Li Qiaoming was arrested for illegal logging in Beicheng town. He was then seriously injured in the detention center in Feb 8 and died in four days because of brain injury. The police report said that he ran into a wall when he was playing “eluding the cat” game with other jail mates.

The whole story was so incredible and netizens started to use “eluding the cat” in their online jokes.

Internet popular terms are very powerful in China, earlier on we have Weng'an “push ups”, and it has discredited local government even though the final report came out and showed that local police hadn't lie about the incident – the suspect was doing push ups on the bridge when the girl drowned herself in the river.

Recruiting netizens for investigation

In order to prevent history from recurring, the Yunnan publicity department acted on it by inviting netizens to do investigation (via ESWN). Netizen, end of the wind, was appointed as the head of the netizen committee, while marginal citizen, as the deputy.

End of the wind reported in cat898 forum (in Feb 19) to other netizens about his appointment and swore that he would try his best to find out the truth:




This afternoon at about 4pm, I heard from the Yunnan publicity department that they wanted to form an investigative committee on the death of 24 years old Li Qiaoming in Yunan Yuxi Beicheng town detention center while playing “eluding the cat”. I made the phone call immediately according to the notice.

Probably I was the first to make the call for registration, the line got through in my first call. The officer written down my avatar, my real name, my identity, phone number, QQ number. Later the line is all jammed.

At around 10:30, I saw the investigator list on the Yunnan net and surprisingly, I became the head of the netizen committee.



Tonight, I will be sleepless. Up till now, no government official told me how the investigation would be conducted, I had no idea about the schedule. I would discuss with other investigators tomorrow about the arrangement.

However, I don't know whether or not the government would accept our schedule demand. I have a plan according to my netizens’ friend and my own idea, however, I need to discuss with others. Whether or not it works, depends on the police department's approval.

Why publicity department?

There are up till now 43 pages of comments in the post. Many said that the Yunnan government is being open minded for recruiting netizens into the committee, some pointed out that it is not the task of “publicity department” to conduct an investigation.

Eye medicine said


What are you trying to lure? How come a propaganda department would take up a criminal case's investigation? What does it mean? A bunch of dark birds, how can you be scientific? Will the report be convincing? Even though you are from the civil sector, how can you ensure what you see is the real? you are doing meaningless thing, why don't you take a shower and sleep early?

Ba la said:


My feeling is that: it is impossible to restore the crime scene, what we got is the jail mates testimony and the corp. The testimony is not reliable, and the post-mortem report once it involves the police, is more unreliable. They have all that in calculation, with proof to support the police's report. Of course, accident happens, and it depends on luck and your knowledge.



In a detention center, under arrest, and they can still play “eluding the cat”? so happy to play game? let's see who want to go there? Let's go there together, for fun and entertainment. The police are such a joke. What kind of ghost story is this? even ghost won't believe.

Investigation Day

At 8:30am, Feb 20, the investigation committee had their hearing at the Jinning policy station. It is more like a press release with netizen participation, as according to local report (reposted by gzjiangxia008):



In Feb 8, around 17:50, Pu, Li, Yu and six other detainers played “eluding the cat” game after the police had their routine check. Li Qiaoming tied his eyes and tried to catch other five, in the process, Pu was caught by Li and Li asked to exchange the role. Pu said that the game hadn't been started and argued with Li. Pu then kicked Li on his chest and hit him on the left side of his head with his fist, which resulted in Li's head hitting on the frame of the door and thus caused the injury.

The police department admitted that they have to be responsible for Li's death in the detention center. However the deputy of the police department in the county said that they have not found any error in the police's work, and they would be willing to take up responsibility according to the result of the investigation.



The deputy of the investigation team “marginal citizen” said, members wanted to see Pu and other detainers who were in the jail with Li Qiaoming, but the deputy chief justice in the county said that according to the law, such kind of interview is not procedural and rejected their demand. The committee also requested to see the Close circuit television, the government said that they could disclose whether such tapes exist or not, according to regulations and non-disclosure principle, what they are demanding is not within the law.

Marginal Citizen concluded that: As the committee doesn't have a clear role in the legal system, unlike what people have been imagining, there isn't much for us to see.

Show for a Lie?

My opinion (via is that the propaganda department is trying to prevent a public opinion bomb from being exploding but it in turn challenges the credibility of police and justice department. According to BBC's report:



According to Sina's online poll, up till midnight of 20, 87.1% netizens found the explanation of “eluding the cat” incredible, and believed that it must be a lie; 8.2% found the explanation incredible but believed that it might be the truth; only 1.3% believe d the explanation should be the truth.

As for the invitation of Yunnan Netizen to participate in the investigation, 49.7% netizens believed that it is probably a show and it is yet to see the effect of the participation. 45.5% said that the arrangement is creative and can further develop democracy, it shows the investigation is open and transparent.

How about you? What's your opinion?


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