Two prominent Chinese micro-bloggers decided to settle their differences offline on Friday, after a Sina Weibo spat between a female regional TV presenter and a pro-government academic ended up in fisticuffs in a Beijing park.
The stand-off in Chaoyang Park, a transcript of which has been provided by Beijing Cream, pitted – firmly in the red corner – assistant professor Wu Danhong against the rather more liberal and diminutive Sichuan TV reporter Zhou Yan.
The argument kicked off online when Wu defended the Communist Party’s attempts to build a molybdenum copper plant in Shifang, Sichuan province – despite mass protests there over the past few weeks which eventually forced the local authorities into an embarrassing climb down over environmental concerns.
Zhou, unsurprisingly, did not take kindly to his suggestion that her fellow Sichuans were making a big fuss about nothing and that molybdenum and copper are actually not harmful to humans at all.
The scuffle in the park is a little difficult to follow but basically involves a bit of pushing and swearing, a lot of shouting and the weedy academic at one point getting decked by his sub-five foot aggressor.
Well-known dissident Ai Weiwei also appears during the stand-off – apparently he was in the area and popped in to see what was going on, although Wu is now claiming he also joined in the fighting.
Wu, for the record, is apparently often accused of being a member of the “50 cent party”, a derisory term for those online commentators who are paid five mao (50 cents) by the authorities per pro-government post.
The assistant professor’s excuse for being beaten by a girl was that she had more supporters than he at the park and that he only went there to joust verbally with Zhou, rather than with his tiny fists.
Whatever his misplaced intentions for turning up, a strongly worded editorial from People’s Daily off-shoot Global Times should leave Wu in no doubt about the Party’s views on the affair.
“Neither challenger nor defender could be labelled as brave, and they have forsaken the virtues of tolerance and decency in this incident,” it said.
Cowering on the ground for much of the fight does seem to have kept Wu out of the police cells, however, unlike his foe who is apparently still cooling off there as we speak. ®