A minor street incident quickly escalated in the southwestern Chinese city of Chongqing this week when a street vendor stabbed a local enforcement officer in the neck with a "tanghulu" fruit skewer.
The 45-year-old female vendor was selling sugar-coated haws on a stick, a beloved snack in China, on Sanxia Square in downtown Chongqing, where vendors are not permitted, the Beijng Youth Daily reported. When the patrolling inspector, known in China as a chengguan officer, tried to escort her off the square, she stabbed him in the throat with one of her fruit skewers, the newspaper said, citing Sanxia Square management.
Several people were waiting to buy the fruity snack when the vendor was told to close up shop, and she apparently complained to the officer that she could have sold several skewers if he hadn't turned up, the square's management said.
The chengguan officer, who was seen staggering and being helped by colleagues after the attack, was hospitalized with serious damage to his thyroid. His condition was not critical however, the Beijing Youth Daily said. The street vendor has meanwhile been detained and an investigation was underway, the newspaper added.
Pictures of the injured officer were posted online and have been shared extensively on Chinese social media, causing an outcry. It has also thrust into the limelight once again the deep seated antagonism between local enforcement agents and vendors, which regularly makes headlines across the country.
While some chengguan officers have been criticized for their authoritarian or unscrupulous behavior, including verbally abusing people or even employing force, ruthless attacks by peddlers have also been widely castigated.
In September 2013, a kebab street vendor was executed in Shenyang, in northeast China's Liaoning Province, for killing a patrolling officer amid a heated dispute. In a similar case last July, a watermelon vendor in Zhengyang, in central China's Henan Province, stabbed and killed a local chengguan agent over a squabble concerning confiscated goods, provoking widespread anger.