Police investigate vendor's death in Central China

Updated: 2013-07-18 16:45


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CHANGSHA - Police and a disciplinary watchdog are investigating the death of a watermelon seller in a clash with urban management officers in Central China's Hunan province, authorities said on Thursday.

Officials with the Linwu County Committee of the Communist Party of China, Chenzhou city, said a vendor died when urban management officers were performing their duties, and the cause of his death is being looked into.

Deng Zhengjia, a farmer in his fifties in Liantang Village of Nanqiang Township, died following verbal and physical conflicts with urban management workers of the county on Wednesday morning, said Deng's niece.

The conflicts came after Deng and his wife tried to sell home-grown watermelons at a riverside scenic spot, where urban management workers said no vendors were allowed, said the niece, also surnamed Deng.

He was hit by the weight from a set of scales, and his wife was also injured and is receiving treatment in hospital, said the niece, citing a witness.

"(Deng's wife) got bruises on her arms and legs, and passed out for a while," said the niece.

China's urban management officers, or chengguan, are often criticised for their violent law enforcement methods for tackling low-level, urban, and non-criminal regulation violations. Reports of urban management law enforcement units often appear in media amid accusations of chengguan officers beating vendors and smashing their stalls.

The People's Daily on Wednesday issued a commentary stating that conflicts between chengguan and the subjects of law enforcement lie in unequal status and lack of communication between the two sides.

Equal, civilized, service-oriented and law-based enforcement by urban management workers is required to seek public understanding and help build beautiful cities, said the commentary.