WARNING - VIOLENT CONTENT: A brutal and bizarre brawl has sparked outrage and debate in China after video of the vicious melee went viral on the country's social media platforms.
Violence broke out over the weekend at a BBQ restaurant in Tangshan, a prefecture-level city in the northeast of Hebei province, near Beijing.
As the fighting spilled out of the restaurant and into the street, at one moment a man can been seen punching a woman, only to seemingly realise he punched the wrong person before hugging her.
According to the state controlled Global Times media outlet, two female victims were sent to the hospital for treatment and were in stable conditions, police said.
But the incident has sparked national outcry and discussion about the treatment of women in Chinese society.
CCTV video captured from inside the restaurant and published online, shows a man walk past a table where three women are dining at 2.40 am local time on Friday. He touches one woman on the back, prompting her to react and yell at him.
When he tries to grab her again, she slaps his hand away for the second time. The man then hits her in the face. At that point, the violent altercation suddenly explodes.
As the woman stands up to defend herself, her friend races over and smashes a bottle across the man's head.
Two other male diners then join the fight, kicking and beating the women with one man even throwing a chair at one of the victims.
Surveillance footage then shows the violence continue out the front of the restaurant as a man can be seen kicking a woman in the head.
At one point, a man appears to accidentally punch his friend or partner.
Everyone is talking about an outburst of violence against female customers at a Tangshan BBQ restaurant that happened on Friday morning. This moment shows how one of the guys involved smashes this woman, seemingly only realizing moments later it is his own partner. pic.twitter.com/RC8C76Oin5
— Manya Koetse (@manyapan) June 11, 2022
All nine suspects involved in the case had been arrested as of Saturday afternoon and an investigation is under way, the local Public Security Bureau said in a Weibo post.
The viral footage unleashed a flood of outrage on Chinese social media, prompting state media calls for punishment and renewing a debate over the treatment of women.
Discussion of the assault dominated Chinese social media on Saturday, taking up the top six places of Weibo's most-discussed topics, Reuters reported.
In a brief online commentary, state television called for the suspects to be severely punished.
The number one trend on Chinese social media and search engines is the Tangshan assault incident. The incident involves a brawl between a group of men and women. The men were drunk and trying to flirt with the women. It's all over the news in China. pic.twitter.com/PGL8BWvOZG
— Aadil Brar (@aadilbrar) June 11, 2022
Following other recent high-profile cases of the mistreatment of women, a widely shared WeChat post on Saturday took issue with the initial official framing of the assault as a simple act of violence.
"This happened in a society where violence against women is rampant ... To ignore and suppress the perspective of gender is to deny the violence that people — as women — suffer," the anonymous post said.
China Women's News, published by the All-China Women's Federation, said in a commentary on Saturday that "there can only, and must only, be zero tolerance for such vicious cases of serious violations of women's rights and interests."
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