China is facing backlash after police officers paraded four individuals, alleged to have breached Covid-19 rules, through the packed streets of Jingxi city, located in the Guangxi region, as reported by Chinese media on Wednesday (Dec 29).
Carrying placards displaying their photographs and names, the four suspects were in hazmat suits. Each of them was flanked by two officers, one on each side.
The officers were also in white hazmat suits with face shields and masks. A larger group of officers, in black riot gear, followed them as they made their way through the city.
The four suspects were accused of transporting illegal migrants in spite of China's borders remaining largely closed.
It took decades of campaigning from human rights activists before China finally banned public shaming of criminal suspects in 2010.
Despite this, the pandemic has brought this practice back as the nation struggles to enforce a national policy of zero Covid-19 infections.
Guangxi News said that the parade provided a "real-life warning" to the public and "deterred border-related crimes".
However, this approach taken by the local government has created a backlash.
Beijing News said on Wednesday that although Jingxi is "under tremendous pressure" to prevent imported Covid-19 cases, "the measure seriously violates the spirit of the rule of law and cannot be allowed to happen again".
In October, many Covid-19 patients in China were named and shamed by online vigilantes, who would leak their private data during the government’s epidemiological investigation. It is common that information such as gender, age, profession and places visited in the past two weeks would be published online.