China Beat Archive



Zhang Lijia

Date of this Version


Document Type



December 8, 2008 in The China Beat


Copyright December 8, 2008. Used by permission.


On July 1 this year, a masked man named Yang Jia forced his way into the Zhabei police bureau in Shanghai, armed with a knife. In a killing rampage, he left six policemen dead and four injured. Last Wednesday, the 28-year-old unemployed man from Beijing was executed by lethal injection after the Supreme People’s Court decided to uphold the death sentence.

There was little surprise for the fate of a cop-murderer in a country where more people are thought to be killed by the capital punishment than the rest of the world combined. Yet the accused seems to have become an unlikely hero. At the second hearing hundreds gathered outside a Shanghai court, some holding signs that read “Long live the hero with a knife!”

In October 2007, Yang was questioned by a policeman in Zhabei district for riding an unregistered bike and was later detained for six hours. Claiming to have been beaten and mistreated by the police, he filed multiple complaints, demanding a formal apology and 10,000 yuan compensation for psychological damage.

Ever since the bloody July day, the Yang Jia saga has weighed on the Internet. Now his execution has sparked more discussions. One man wrote that the whole Yang Jia fiasco was an insult to the Chinese people. Another blogger urged people to mourn him for three days by not eating meat. Yang’s humiliation at the hands of policemen and his effort in seeking justice resonated with a public sick of the security force abusing its power and easily getting away with it.