Be wary at night, urges embassy

By Zhang Hui Source:Global Times Published: 2012-6-13 0:15:08

Elements nightclub, near Workers' Stadium west gate last night. The US embassy alleged an employee was assaulted inside at the weekend. Photo: Guo Yingguang/GT


The US embassy has warned American citizens in Beijing to exercise caution while out at night in the capital, after an embassy employee was alleged to have been assaulted at a popular nightclub at the weekend.

An employee at the club, Elements, near the west gate of the Workers' Stadium, denied the accusation.

"US citizens are reminded to use caution when enjoying the nightlife in Beijing. Maintaining an awareness of your surroundings and keeping a low profile are critical to avoiding potential problems," said the notice, posted on the embassy's website yesterday.

The employee was beaten by club security staff in the early hours of Saturday morning, the release alleged. 

"The employee… was hit in the head with a sharp object while dancing away from the group," the notice said, "...he was repeatedly beaten and kicked in the head by individuals serving as bouncers for the nightclub."

The notice did not provide further details of the attack, or reveal the employee's identity. It is not known if police attended the incident.

As of press time yesterday, the embassy had not yet replied to requests for clarification.

A male employee from Elements, who requested anonymity, denied the embassy's version of events, despite admitting that he was not present, and was told of the incident afterward. 

 "Two foreigners suddenly started fighting. They severely affected our business that night, and they didn't stop after we tried to calm them down," the man said.

The employee claimed that when the club's security staff intervened, they were the ones assaulted by the foreigners. The club is calculating losses incurred and checking on injuries to its security staff, he said.

Zi Xiangdong, spokesman for the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau (PSB), said he was unaware of the incident, and as of press time, was still looking into it.

The US embassy particularly warned of attacks in areas around Workers' Stadium.

Another employee was attacked in a club near the stadium's north gate in 2010, and other citizens had reported being victims of crime in nearby areas, the release said.

Several expat websites have posted reports alleging an increase in violent incidents in Sanlitun. A video clip uploaded to the Internet on May 23, showing a graphically violent fight between two men, at least one of whom seems to be foreign, was widely spread online.

Sarah Ting-Ting Hou, an American working at magazine City Weekend, was also allegedly assaulted by two young Chinese men in Sanlitun on May 23.

Hou told the Global Times the pair tried to grab her through a car window as she was walking home at 3 am.

She asked a foreign couple for help, but they too were attacked. Hou said she was kicked in the face and chest. She called the 110 emergency line, and informed the US embassy. 

"I reported the case to Sanlitun police station the next day, and police told me they would contact me in a week, but they haven't done that as of now," Hou said.

"I'm now asking my friends to escort me home, as my place is too close and taxi drivers won't take me," she said.

An officer from Sanlitun police station said there had not been any recent reports of violence against foreigners, saying inquiries should be directed to the municipal PSB. 

Despite the recent reports, many residents still feel safe going out in Sanlitun.

American university teacher Sunnia Koh said that she did not feel in danger in the area.

"But perhaps it's because I don't look foreign," she said, "although a British friend of mine told me she was attacked in Sanlitun recently." 

Former Sanlitun club worker, Zhang Xinying, said that she occasionally saw drunken fights, but does not believe foreigners were targeted.

"It's common; people drink and get in a fight. It could involve Chinese, foreigners or both," Zhang said, noting that she still hangs out in Sanlitun with her friends.

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