China: Press conference held following suspicious death of rural activist

It has not been a peaceful week in the news, with a crossbow-shooting bomber-petitioner in Beijing, a city administration official killed with a screwdriver today in Fujian province, and the grisly death of village leader Qian Yunhui in Zhejiang province on Christmas day.

[UPDATE: Roland Soong at EastSouthWestNorth has been translating stories from Chinese media regarding Qian's death and the official response, The “Accidental” Death Of A Village Mayor]

Over the weekend, amid minimal efforts to censor it, this last story has escalated to the point where a post written by Qian back in August, now with photos and details from the scene of his death, has received more than 19,000 comments; Qian's name has trended on Baidu, and local officials held a press conference Monday afternoon [zh].

Even Sina blogs is running a post from well-known sports journalist Li Chengpeng which carries the graphic photos of Qian's death beneath the wheel of a construction truck. Starting by addressing rumors that Qian was held down by police while the truck crushed him, Li writes:


As you already know, at the time of his death, the surveillance cameras on that road just happened to be broken, the driver of the vehicle was quickly taken away, and the guys in mighty uniforms with their shields fell like gods from the sky to split up the villagers and seal off the area. Then some in their black shirts and black pants quickly moved to…this story goes just like the many others that everyone already knows, and the result was: this was a typical traffic accident and the driver is being dealt with.

The speed at which troops appeared to seal off the village have left many suspicious of the official story line


This information hasn't been authoritatively verified and never will be. This was a typical traffic accident, just like my dad is Li Gang. Fortunately, we have other ways of learning the truth that go beyond what we hear to what we know in our hearts. In this country, our organs have adapted, allowing us to see the world for what it is. The only way to commemorate this person named Qian Yunhui would be to carefully put his head back on.



This is a sacred head. For six years, this head has tormented over how to win that 146 qing of land belonging to the villagers back from officials and developers, to ensure the livelihood of these villagers who mainly live off farming. Four months ago, this head struggled to put words and sentences together and had someone post for him his tale of how officials had falsified documents, dispatched hundreds of troops to surround and beat him, how he and a few others leading that ended up serving a year and six months….and the last resolute thought this head had was: if anyone suspects what's written above to be slanderous, I, Qian Yunhui, take responsibility.

He thought his head was strong.
But it wasn't strong enough to stop a truck tire from crushing it.

Live-tweeting from the Monday afternoon press conference in Yueqing was this one unnamed local reporter, who writes:


Of the media here at the press conference are: CCTV, People's Daily, Ningbo Modern Gold News, Zhejiang Times, Wenzhou Metropolis Daily!


It's strange that the speaker's chair has been given to someone from the local Yueqing branch of China Mobile. Apparently, Qian Yunhui's last phone call was actually the mobile company calling him, not sure about the details though! I hope the truth is about to come out!


When I signed in, one of the staff here said, you know, this was just a typical traffic accident……I dare say this press conference won't be overturning this prepared definition from the relevant departments!


The police spokesman says that after police received a call of a traffic accident in the morning, Yueqing traffic police and officers from the local police station went to the scene. By that time, the driver of the construction vehicle had already fled! More than around forty villagers had gathered around and began attacking police from all sides!


Police say that the driver, Fei Liangyu, was driving without a license!


The China Mobile spokesperson says that the CCTV surveillance cameras at the scene haven't yet been put to full use. The viewing function has been activated, but nothing is being recorded! This is baloney!


One reporter asks, why was the construction vehicle backing up? The police spokesman says there were cables on the right side of the road and the vehicle couldn't move forward. As the construction vehicle reversed to the left, it struck Mr. Qian who was crossing the road! The police's preliminary decision is that the construction vehicle was not moving quickly!


One reporter asks if the driver Fei Liangyu has a criminal record. When did he begin working in Yueqing? The traffic police spokesperson says that traffic accidents are acts of criminal negligence and any prior criminal history has nothing to do with this case!


One reporter asks, at the scene, the deceased has both hands raised up, but only the only damage is to the head. How do you explain such a peculiar death? The traffic police spokesperson says that there are signs of impact damage to the left side of the construction vehicle…but this makes no logical sense regarding how the vehicle was struck at the time of the accident and why the deceased was in such a strange position!


One reporter asks, following the accident, the brother and widow of the deceased were taken away by police, for what reason? The public security bureau spokesperson says that the case is currently under investigation and this cannot be addressed at this time!


Colleagues and I are going to the scene of the accident, let's hope we find something else!


  • […] 28 UPDATE: More translated information available at EastSouthWestNorth and Global Voices Online. Related Posts Motorcyclist Hits Truck, Flips 360° & Lands On Feet Unharmed 39 […]

  • […] Former village leader allegedly held under truck by police on Christmas Day while truck rolls over himChinese netizens have been outraged lately by the murder of Qian Yunhui, former village leader of Zhaiqiao village, near Yueqing, Wenzhou who has served over five years in prison for protesting over the illegal landgrab in the village. Gruesome images of the bloody remains of Qian under a truck have been floating around on Tianya and Sina Weibo, and some purporting to be eyewitnesses have claimed that Qian was held down by policemen while the truck rolled over him. John Kennedy of Global Voices has done an excellent job translating tweets from a journalist who was present at the press conference held by the local PSB. Police claims that Qian's death was the result of a "typical traffic accident" have left journalists incredulous, opening up more questions than answering them. Read some of the eye-opening statements made by police here. […]

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