Chinese executive’s violent tantrum at airport sparks anger

The Guardian, BEIJING

Wed, Feb 27, 2013 - Page 6

Anyone could understand Yan Linkun’s (嚴林昆) frustration when he was informed that he had missed his flight, but the way Yan reacted to the news — banging on doors and smashing computers — has turned him into the latest symbol of the entitlement and arrogance increasingly associated with China’s political elite.

A surveillance video showing the mining company deputy chairman’s violent tantrum at Kunming Changshui airport, Yunnan Province, went viral on Chinese microblogs after it was uploaded to the Internet this weekend.

The four-minute video, captured on Tuesday last week, shows Yan standing by a check-in counter as an airport employee informs him that he has missed his flight to Shenzhen.

Yan — who is also a member of a political advisory body in Qujing, Yunnan — responds first with incredulity, then rage. He destroys two computers and a telephone, before dismantling a free-standing poster and using its metal frame to bang on the flight gate door. A crowd gathers, but nobody attempts to restrain him.

The mining company has suspended Yan and the political advisory body has threatened punishment.

Since Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (習近平) launched a crackdown on corruption last autumn, dozens of officials have been exposed as crooked by the country’s Internet users and subsequently reprimanded. The crackdown has done more to expose the scale of China’s corruption problem than validate the high-level efforts to tackle it.

Yan has expressed remorse for his behavior.

“My irrational actions and rudeness have caused some losses to the airport, as well as bad effects to the public, so I sincerely apologize to the airport and public,” he told the airport’s deputy manager, the Shanghai Daily reported.

The tantrum is not the only incidence of high-level misbehavior that has gripped China during the past week.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) secretary of a district bureau in Nanyang City, Henan Province, drove a government car into a cinema on Sunday morning, injuring 26 people, Xinhua news agency reported. Eight of the injured were hospitalized and two remain in a critical condition.

The official, Liu Xianchong (劉仙崇), mistook the accelerator in his government-issued vehicle for the brake, Xinhua reported.

The report cited local police as saying that Lie had been off work for seven months because of a cerebral infarction, a type of stroke. A special group to “handle the incident and its aftermath” was set up by the local party committee, Xinhua said. Liu has been detained.

Last week, party disciplinary authorities said a former official in Shaanxi Province had been expelled from the party for “serious wrongdoing” and “suspected crimes.”

Yang Dacai (楊達才) rose to notoriety in August last year after he was photographed smiling at the scene of a road accident in which 36 people died.

He became a symbol of official corruption when further photographs appeared on the Internet of him wearing a number of luxury watches that many in China believe he could not possibly afford on a public servant’s salary.