- A video of China police publicly shaming alleged human smugglers has gone viral on social media.
- Users on the social media platform Weibo are divided over whether the punishment is appropriate.
- Publicly parading and shaming suspects has been banned since the 1980s, according to the Global Times.
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A city in China paraded four alleged human smugglers through the streets in a public shaming exercise on Tuesday morning.
A video capturing the parade was posted to Chinese social media, igniting fierce discussions on whether the move in the southern Chinese city of Jingxi was appropriate.
The four men are accused of smuggling several people across the border from Vietnam into China — despite China's borders remaining closed as a part of the country's Covid-zero policy.
Clad in hazmat suits, the suspects were escorted by eight policemen wearing the same protective gear and accompanied by an even larger group of armed policemen. They walked down crowded streets in the southern Guangxi province as the suspects wore placards bearing their names and photos.
Australian Broadcasting Corporation journalist and former China correspondent Bill Birtles reposted a copy of the video on his Twitter account.
Extraordinary videos circulating of suspected people smugglers being publicly paraded in southern Guangxi province - a practice evocative of times past. The full hazmat suits appear to be common these days for criminal suspects... /1 pic.twitter.com/qtKaMKrkR4— Bill Birtles (@billbirtles) December 29, 2021
Users on the Chinese social media platform Weibo were divided over the punishment.
"Extraordinary means for extraordinary times," said Weibo user Mujian.
User Anguanglu said China said the public punishment is a "feudal" practice, adding that it was hard to understand why Jingxi authorities would use the "vile" method to punish the suspects.
"A regression of civilization and the rule of law," commented another Weibo user.
Global Times said the move by the authorities could itself be "suspected of violating the law and is improper." China's Ministry of Public Security told local authorities to ban "rude law enforcement" last year, the outlet added.