Social media has seen multiple videos showing a Chinese crowd attacking and flipping a police car. This is yet another example of civil disobedience which has broken the country’s digital censorship wall.
On 2 January, a large crowd gathered in Luyi County Henan . It is understood that frustrations over a ban on fireworks escalated to people pushing officers and attacking police cars.
Then, some people threw fireworks at it and then smashed its windows. They also climbed up on the car to dance and stamp on it.
Social media users drew a link between this action against local authorities and the unusually large protests that took place in China last year, which became known as the #WhitePaperRevolution or the #A4Revolution to reflect how demonstrators held up blank pieces of paper during their action.
While there is not much evidence linking the incidents, commenters online made some comparisons by posting videos on Monday with the hashtag #FireworkRevolution.
According to Professor William Hurst at the University of Cambridge, incidents like the one that attacked the police car are not uncommon in China. He said that the amount of video footage from Monday that has been posted online is not common.
Sky News: “Protests of such intensity and scale do occur very often, and the government doesn’t necessarily consider it a big deal,” he said, explaining that the Chinese government believes that any resistance or mobilization is an existential threat to their regime in certain contexts.
This type of content is often quickly removed from Chinese social media. It is quite remarkable that it appears on social media sites other than China’s, such as Instagram and Twitter, at this scale.
Prof Hurst stated that “I believe this is actually an actual new trend that has been observed over the past few months.” This is something different.
“It seems that more videos of contentious episodes are making it onto Chinese social networking platforms like Douyin (known outside China as TikTok) and have remained there for long enough for someone else to take them off of Chinese social networks and repost them on other Chinese social media.
The state is actually loosening a bit on what can be posted, how long it can stay up, and what can leak internationally. It could be both.
These videos show large crowds gathered at a Luyi County landmark. Sky News verified the location.
One of the earliest videos shows the car trying to drive through crowds while a man was seated on the bonnet.
This car is in good condition with only a small dent visible above the right wheels.
Another video shows the vehicle being surrounded by people filming on phones, and one man climbing up the boot.
Another video shows people pushing and shoveling a police officer.
Later, people will throw things at the car, including lit fireworks.
Some people attack the vehicle…
… and then climb up on it.
One video has been shared widely. The video shows a Balenciaga-clad man dancing on top the police car.
This point has caused severe damage to the car.
Finally, a group of people forms and flips the car over.
According to the Luyi County Public Security Bureau, eight people were under investigation. Six of them were arrested following the attack on the police vehicle.
Chinese social media sites still have posts that criticize the incident and share police comments, but comments applauding the crowd for resisting the authorities seem to have been deleted in large numbers.
On 4 January, Weibo’s search for “Luyi”, produced less than 300 results. The majority of posts on Weibo are critical of the incident.
Many of the videos were uploaded to Douyin but almost all have been removed.
These videos don’t prove that the police car was attacked by officers trying to enforce the fireworks ban. This ban is in place due to concerns about air pollution and fire hazards.
Many people wanted to lift the ban to mark the end of the three-year COVID-19 restrictions.
After the largest opposition in decades to the ruling Communist Party, China abandoned its controversial zero COVID policy. This was witnessed towards the end November and early December.
Data and Forensics
team is a multi-skilled unit dedicated to providing transparent journalism from Sky News. We gather, analyse and visualise data to tell data-driven stories. We combine traditional reporting skills with advanced analysis of satellite images, social media and other open source information. Through multimedia storytelling we aim to better explain the world while also showing how our journalism is done.