China: Mass incident sparked by a dead body

A Chinese google document has been set up to collect the most up-to-date information about the Shishou riot. Here is a translated summary of the blog posts via the google doc.

Background (by Subei via google doc)

On June 17th around 7:30, Xu Yuangao's body was found outside Yong Long hotel in Shishou city, Hubei province. Xu, 24, was the hotel's chef. Police investigated the scene and said that Xu had committed suicide. Xu's family, however, believed that he was murdered because there were no blood stains on the ground, but there were some obvious injuries in his body. Moreover, a similar incident had taken place two years prior. Rumor spread that local police and government officials had shares in the hotel.

The following day, the hotel told Xu's family that if they could agree with a report that Xu committed suicide, they could get 35,000 yuan in compensation. Instead, Xu's family insisted on finding out the truth and refused to hand over Xu's body. Xu's father then brought a gas container to the hotel to protect the body from being taking away.

[photo: father protecting the son's body]

At 1am on June 19, police and funeral cars arrived at the hotel, wanting to take the body away. 2,000 Shishou residents blocked the hotel entrance to protect Xu's corpse. The first confrontation between local residents and the police took place at 8am, during which some residents were arrested, while more joined in. At 1pm, several thousand local residents fought back with stones and bottles and the police line broke down. At 3pm, police failed again in seizing the dead body and the city government had to seek help from armed police. Eventually, Jingzhou sent a clan of armed police to back up. However, the number of local residents had reached more than 40,000 at its peak and the armed police had to retreat.

At night, there were still more than 10,000 residents blocking the hotel entrance and main roads leading to the hotel. At 2am on June 20, 500 police took action again and there was another confrontation. Dozens of local residents and polices were injured.

The city government began to cut Internet connections on the early morning of June 20. Another round of confrontation took place around 7am. This time police were equipped with 8 anti-riot vehicles and six fire engines. Thousands of local residents fought back with stone and bricks. Below are some video showing the confrontation scene:

The most update news from twitter via freemoren at around 10am on June 21 says that police had finally seized the dead body and transported it to the crematorium. Torrent from twitter has set up a twitter account @shishou for translating updates in English.

While overseas media such as Reuters and AFP have reported on the riot, Xinhua Chinese has a news story describing the confrontation and riot as an inter-departmental fire drill. The English-language has another version more sympathetic towards the protesters.

Below are some comments from twitter (via twitter search – shishou):

After tens of thousands of cops robbed people in #Shishou of a corpse, welcome to China ruled by Zombies.

Please help to spread the news of the riot in Shishou. Their lives are in danger, Chinese people need your help! #ShishouRiot #Shishou

FUCK! Shishou riots reported in Chinese media as “bus fire extinguishing exercises”. How low can those in power go?


  • Liz

    That’s just stunning. They’re so very brave, I admire the people who are resisting…

  • gov




  • That’s one heck of a “fire drill.”

  • Jason Paz

    In what possible way can brutality serve to advance any country?

    • Outsider Looking In

      Are you serious?

      Not to be rude, but:

      U.S. Government policy toward American Indians 1700-now.

      British Government toward any of its colonies during the colonial period – especially India.

      German Govt. behavior during the first half of the 20th century.

      Chinese policy toward Japan… anytime.

      Japanese policy toward China… anytime.

      Russian policy toward its “client states” … anytime.

      Do I really have to go on… yes I do, because the reverse is true…

      American colonies policy toward British rule circa late 1700s…

      Indian colonies policy toward British rule circa 1800s…

      French peasants policy toward French aristocracy circa mid and late 1700s…

      “serve to advance” ? Violence CREATED most modern countries… and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future, until the human race grows up a bit (if we survive that long…

      Good Luck to us all!

      • Jason Paz

        The authors of brutality usually justify their acts by portraying the victims as somehow less than human. This can be on the basis of skin color, race, ethnicity and many other ways men differentiate human beings.
        Torture, wars and genocide may allow the temporary material and resource advantages. This is done through fear and oppression, which form a poor basis for real social advance.

  • Who would have thought that Twitters killer app would be political subversion?

    BTW what was special about this particular death that would get so many people up in arms.

    • maia

      You’re only allowed one child, which is quite different from choosing, so this is like your precious one, you can’t have another probably if you’re that old, and everyone would feel how important it was to the parents. ?

      • Oi-lin

        Also, Xu apparently was the relative of the mayor. I’m willing to bet that the larger cause behind the protest was dissatisfaction w/ local government due to corruption, much like in Weng’an..

  • Phi

    It’s sad to see such a waste of human capital. From time immemorial, depots have ruled the Chinese people to fill their pockets. Eventually, given modern communications, the Chinese government will implode. That day can’t come too soon. Why should 200 million people be forced to migrate from their homes to industrial city factories because these so-called “leaders” can’t figure anything else out. So, what’s new? The Chinese people suffer while its corrupt government runs away with the rewards. Sickening!

  • Mick Russom

    Free Tibet and stop supporting the North Korean murderers, corrupted evil Chinese government!

  • I wish somebody in China or Hong Kong would compare this story to the similar incident last month in Anhui province. Don’t bother trying to find it on Internet search engines like Google or Yahoo because it has mysteriously disappeared. The Anhui incident can now only be found at one legitimate source: EastSouthWestNorth’s archives:

    Here is what happened at Hefei: A chef and waitress are beaten by local officials at a hotel restaurant. There are photos as well as a video.

    My question is: Although the chef and waitress did not die from their injuries, why wasn’t there mass public outrage at the restaurant and on the streets of Hefei when and after this happened? The crowd estimates in rural Shishou are astounding, and the lack of any public outcry in Hefei (capital of Anhui province) less than a month ago is baffling.

  • […] Anyway, here’s the youtube footage of the confrontation that has been going on since June 19. (Here’s a good summary of the background at the invaluable Global Voices […]

  • China: Mass riots sparked by a dead body…

    Breaking news is that the riots have been dispersed, though at their peak 40,000 riot police were involved and people from neighbouring cities helped block the whole town from the police. Suspected that the man was murdered after finding out about drug…

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