China’s heat wave brings ‘dead’ man back to life

BEIJING (AP) — Having the dead guy jump up for a drink probably wasn’t part of the script.

A staged protest claiming that city officials had beaten a sidewalk vendor to death in central China went awry when the man playing dead under a white sheet was overcome by the region’s heat wave and sprang up to quaff a bottle of water, state media reported Monday.

“It’s too hot. I can’t bear it anymore,” the man was quoted as saying by state-run Xinhua News Agency.

More than 10 men had gathered Saturday with a gurney that purportedly carried the vendor’s body, covered by a sheet, in the Hubei provincial capital Wuhan. They were demanding tens of thousands of yuan (thousands of dollars) in compensation for the alleged death, Xinhua said.

The incident drew 300 onlookers and about 80 police officers.

It was not immediately clear how the group intended to press their claims without submitting the body for an investigation and autopsy. In any case, the game was up when the man — as Xinhua reported — jumped up after two hours under the sheet.

The man on the gurney was identified only by his surname Han, and he has been detained for disturbing social order, said a district administration official in Wuhan contacted by telephone. She refused to give her name.

Han told the police that urban management workers — known as “chengguan” — clashed with the group of vendors earlier Saturday after telling them that their drinks stands were blocking traffic, Xinhua said.

Many members of China’s public have long resented the heavy-handed tactics of the country’s chengguan. Though they have no legal authority to use force, they are often accused of beating people who commit minor infractions in shows of power that have fueled social tension, triggered riots and aggravated public discontent against the government.

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