The northern Chinese city of Tangshan has been stripped of a national honorary title as the fallout from the assault of four women at a restaurant earlier this month continues.
The civilization office of the Communist party of China’s central committee announced on Wednesday it had decided to remove Tangshan from the list of “national civilized cities” – the highest recognition for a Chinese city.
“The honor of a civilized city belongs to all citizens and cannot be smeared or desecrated,” said China City News, a news outlet under the official People’s Daily. “When facing so many problems, Tangshan clearly did not show the warmth of a [civilised] city.”
The attack on four female diners by a group of men on 10 June shocked the nation and sparked a wider conversation among Chinese people on the internet about violence against women. Nine men have since been arrested for the assault, and at least five local police officials have been investigated in the last 24 hours in relation to the incident.
According to Chinese media, Tangshan has been honored with the title of “civilized city” four consecutive times, with the latest awarded in 2020. The title was established in 2005, and is granted once every three years. Nearly half of the country’s 600 cities, districts and towns had been given the title as of late last year.
Cities are judged for the level of their overall development, their environment as well as their attractiveness to people from outside. The grading is conducted through inspections by the central government, and the title is reviewed once every three years.
The assault has put Tangshan in a national spotlight. In the last few days, Chinese media reported that one of the accused – whose surname is Chen – had previously been involved in other legal cases, including money laundering.
The revelation prompted the city’s local party committee to call for the incident to be investigated “deeply to find out which government officials have had interests and relations with Chen and other [suspects]”.