Govt officers suspended after alleged beating

CHINA - About 10 government officers were suspended on Sunday as an investigation continued into allegations the father of a 9-year-old girl was beaten because they sold lamps on the street as the girl's summer holiday project in Beijing's Shichahai area.

A joint investigation team has been set up by legal affairs, supervision and police departments as well as lawmakers and political advisers.

On Sunday the Xicheng district government released an initial report of the case on Sina Weibo, a micro blog platform.

According to the report, four people were injured, including the father and three government officers in Shichahai area, a famous tourism destination in Beijing's downtown area.

Tian Yudong, the father, also posted on Sina Weibo that he had started a project with his daughter, a third-grade pupil, on July 16. They sold lamps on a street in Shichahai near their home with the project aimed at improving the girl's social abilities.

On Thursday night, a law enforcement team including chengguan officers, or urban management officers, and officers from the Shichahai tourism management office asked them to stop the operation for the second time since they started the project, according to Tian's micro blog posts.

An argument ensued that deteriorated into a physical altercation between the officers and Tian. Tian said he suffered cuts and bruising and has a lump on the back of his head.

Three tourism management officials also suffered injuries and reported the case to local police on Friday, said Sun Jinsong, head of Xicheng district's publicity department.

Sun said chengguan officers did not beat Tian and the fight was only between him and the tourism management officers, who have no urban management law enforcement rights.

The Shichahai area is unique in Beijing because it is an open tourism area, where chengguan work with tourism management officers to maintain order.

Further investigation will focus on who started the fight and those responsible will be punished, Sun said.

The case triggered heated discussion online about the behaviour of government officers as well as of Tian's project.

He wrote on his micro blog that he had learned that selling goods on the street might violate city regulations but the project aimed to let his daughter experience society, which he thought was a different case.

"I did not expect that government officers would beat me so severely in such a famous scenic spot in Beijing," Tian wrote on Sunday in a post.

Tian, the deputy head of a magazine in Beijing, asked the chengguan to release related recorded footage of the incident to give the public a complete picture.

Mo Yuchuan, a law professor at Renmin University of China, said that although some street vendors conduct illegal business operations, chengguan and other government officers should persuade them to stop rather than react to them with violence.