Riders on the Sino-Storm

This is an unpleasant subject, but dire times call for integrity, a strong stomach and a modicum of google research. Some context. The Telegraph recently reported that:

13,000 officers and two force helicopters have been deployed in the blanket search for Zeng Kaigui, a former People’s Liberation Army policeman, after he shot dead his latest victim in a £20,500 bank heist in the eastern city of Nanjing over the weekend.

Zeng is also suspected of killing six people and injuring two others during separate armed robberies in major cities in the south west of the country since 2004, stealing an estimated £50,000.

We learn that Nanjing is in total lockdown, and that Zeng, the really bad element in question, is highly skilled in avoiding surveillance, a master of disguise and weapons expert who only communicates with body language when ordering his daily noodles. Furthermore, this murder and heist artist has been into this gig since 2004.

{For fans of Japanese cinema, the apt movie reference is Vengeance is Mine made by the director Shohei Inamura in 1979. Great review by Midnight Eye.
Always a brilliant site.]

The Peoples Daily and numerous other tabloids come up with virtually the same information, so I will spare you more links and provide some musical background for the rest of the read.

Now Danwei, a Shaun Rein-type site, resurrects itself in one fell swoop with a long must-read piece, although it took a guest writer – Robert Foyle Hunwick – to perform this christian miracle with his reportage on Chinese Serial Killers.

Now, China is always playing the victimhood game, must-catch-up- with-the-West card, but when it comes to mass murderers with a truly gruesome bent, this drivel does not apply. It is producing serial killers at an exponential rate, and they are right up there with the competition in terms of ingenuity and strange fixations: necrophiliacs, hammer murderers, vivisectionists, child murderers, devotees of dungeon incarceration, cannibals, etc.

In brief, we are talking about really sick creatures who prey on the weak and transient: children from dirt poor villages to sex workers and mobile migrant workers. And these are just some of the instances which have come to public attention. Hunwich’s bibliography provides further reading in the same vein HERE, and I can add HERE and HERE.

And it is within this context that Henan province is getting more than its fair share of attention, such that there is now a backlash by the citizens of that grubby backwater HERE. Now, given the general characterisation of the Uighurs as shiftless, criminal layabouts, all I can say is good luck, suckers.

This brings us the East-West literary conundrum. Popular western fiction is so overloaded with novels featuring CSI/profiler detectives-types matching wits with high IQ mass murderers, that one almost risks one’s sanity when perusing the shelves of any lending library or bookshop. Yet, we find no equivalent popular literature in Sino-land. Or, for that matter, straight biographical accounts of mass murderers and the man hunts which bought them to justice and the bullet.

And the reasons are obvious. Such a popular literature would point to total police indifference to the fate of those of its citizens lacking guanzi, money or political connections, not to mention the non-existence of modern forensic investigation techniques. Finally, the bleeding obvious, being the lack of a free press. At best, if you are a Chinese reporter investigating this type of criminal malfeasance, restrict yourself to mass murderers in adjacent provinces and keep you job. All taking place in a social formation which now spends more on domestic public order personnel than it does on its military forces.

This is in stark contrast to that very popular form of fiction writing in China known as Officialdom Fiction. OF is both a fiction of public cynicism and also a civil-ethical pedagogy. It realistically represents public expectations of Sino-bureacracy, and is also a learning tool for bureacrats-to-be, teaching them an array of tried-and-true techniques to climb the greasy pole of government employment. If you are not acquainted with this genre, try HERE, HERE, and this website HERE.

It is high time China’s mass murders demanded their five minutes of sunshine and a Truman Capote of choice, so they could have their exploits recorded for posterity. They would be dark, gruesome narratives of blood rage, greed, cruelity and social rootlessness, told within a context of official apathy and investigative ineptitude. Officialdom Fiction is a literary form which is positively seductive in contrast.

3 Responses to “Riders on the Sino-Storm”

  1. foarp Says:

    Interesting article – and you’re right, along with sci-fi, this kind of killer flick is something that I just haven’t seen coming out of mainland China.

  2. kingtubby1 Says:

    @FOARP. Re: serial killer fiction. To the best of my knowledge, there are a couple of forensic CSI type fictions, but they have western authors and western protagonists. One of Cathy Reichs truly crap forensic novels – one of the Bones series of fodder is set in China – and it is a patronising load. The only redemming factor is the over arching plot revolving around a secretive millenial movement which dupes a gullible peasantry. Not worth the reading effort even though I’ve often blogged on the possibility of outbreaks of this type of irrationalism some time in the near future.

    Then there is this Midnight in Peking which hardly fits the bill:


    Wrong time period and governmental culprits, and it will probably sell like hell, even though the whole premise sounds like a retro bunch of old cobblers following a tried and true formula.

    That aside, you might as well go for dated laughs and this read:

    Peking Duck by Roger Simon

    There is still a vacant space for China’s version of Michael Connelly or for that matter a Sino version of James Ellroy.

  3. FOARP Says:

    I guess a Chinese Ed McBain or Conan-Doyle is waaaay to much to ask – I always found the detectives more interesting that the killers.

    The no-Sci-Fi thing was always something I found a bit weird. Can’t really blame it on the Communists either, since HK and Taiwan are equally Sci-Fi-free.

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