Protesters clash with police in China after woman hacked to death by husband

China Henan protest (Screengrab/ Wanjun Xie)
China Henan protest (Screengrab/ Wanjun Xie)

Protesters in China's central province of Henan clashed with the local police after a 24-year-old woman was hacked to death by her husband.

Hundreds of people, livid over the handling of the case, attacked a police vehicle in Hua County on Monday, breaking its windows and attempting to overturn it. Police officers chased the protesters with batons and pepper spray.

Videos shared on social media showed dozens of people running on the streets after being chased away by the authorities.

Following the clash, Chinese authorities urged residents to maintain calm.

The husband, suspected of killing the woman with a knife over a “family dispute”, has been arrested, a task force appointed to address the matter said in a statement.

"The public security organ immediately controlled the suspect Zhang Mouhao and detained him criminally according to law,” it said.

The County administration was “trying to pacify sentiments and resolve conflicts” and assist the minors in the family according to laws and regulations, the task force said.

However, it accused “netizens” of spreading “false information” on the internet and “deliberately exaggerating facts”.

“I would like to remind netizens that the Internet is not a place outside the law...”

Protests are rare in China, where the Communist government is known to throttle dissent and enforce strict laws. Although there has been an uptick in public outrage since citizens took to the streets in November in an unprecedented move against Beijing’s stringent “zero-Covid” policy.

The subsequent protests have led to speculation that it could be the beginning of a larger political resistance against the authoritarian rule of president Xi Jinping.

Earlier this month, hundreds of retirees in two cities of Wuhan and Dalian protested against the government’s decision to cut medical benefits. Photos and videos of demonstrations circulating online showed elderly people gathering in various areas of the two cities, including a local hospital and park.

Crowds could be seen jostling with officers in one video, while another showed officers forcefully leading people onto buses.

In January, another protest broke out in Henan province, where locals flipped over a police car during a heated altercation with the authorities over the right to set off fireworks.