Large Gunfight in Guangxi, Manipulated Online Comments

Two groups of men open fire on each other in Guangxi with homemade guns and hunting rifles, in a country where private gun ownership is strictly regulated and generally illegal.

This is currently the most-discussed article on Chinese web portal NetEase, with over 300,000 “comment participants” and still rapidly growing…

From NetEase:

Shootout in Guangxi Baise City, One Already Surrendered to Authorities

@中国独家报道 [“China Exclusive Report”, aka Xinhua]: Gun Incident in Guangxi Baishe City, Multiple People Open Fire on Each Other — The Guangxi province Baishe city Public Security Bureau has confirmed to Xinhua News that at around 7am on September 26th, a gun-related incident occurred in downtown Baishi city, involving multiple individuals opening fire at each other, so far with no casualties. Investigation has preliminarily determined that two groups of people had an altercation while drinking alcohol at Donghe First Road and Longchuan Alley, that became a group brawl, and when they discovered police were dispatched to put a stop to it, they open fired from a distance before dispersing.

September 26th, around 7am, a shooting occurred at Donghe First Road and Longchuan Alley in Baishe city’s Youjiang district. Around 20 men carrying guns shot at each other from behind buildings and cars. In the conflict, multiple vehicles were riddled with holes.

The Paper learned from the Baishi Public Security Bureau Youjiang Sub-Bureau that no one was injured in the incident, and police have already established a special investigation team to investigate.

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According to video recorded by netizens, in an alley, over 10 bare-chested men carrying types of guns were shooting in one direction. The longest gun was nearly as tall as a person. They used vehicles as cover, with some hiding behind building corners. The constant gunfire set off the car alarms in the alley. Photographs of the scene show the windows of cars riddled with holes.

Weibo netizen @Mosquito-Jane said at about 7:10 in the morning, there were a group of people with guns shooting at people in a building across from them, with the sound of gunfire lasting perhaps three minutes. This Paper journalist obtained information from those familiar with the incident that there were approximately 10 people on each side.

One police officer from the Youjiang Sub-Bureau says the guns were homemade guns and hunting rifles based on surveillance footage at the site. At around 10am, one of the people involved had turned himself in, but the identities of the gunmen remains uncertain.

(Original title: Around 20 Involved Shooting Each Other in Guangxi Baishe Gun Fight, So Far One Person Has Turned Themselves In)

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From NetEase:

人人绕圈子 [网易江西省网友]:

To have such vulgar behavior in a civilized society…

两点两滴 [网易江西省网友]:

Root out these weeds, and eliminate their danger to society.

顿悟你 [网易江西省网友]:

Bring these two lawless groups of people to justice, so they do not destroy public order again.

揪心小鸟 [网易江西省网友]:

Capture them as soon as possible, they must not be allowed to evade the law.

喇叭花朵 [网易广东省佛山市顺德区网友]:

This bunch of people are simply lawless, even using guns to resolve disputes.

伤脑筋小猪 [网易北京市网友]:

There is still a long road to go when it comes to legal education [educating people about the law], people must not be allowed to remain ignorant.

感觉来 [网易浙江省衢州市网友]:

Strongly denounce such lawless use of guns. You people are trampling upon harmonious society.

智慧似是而非 [网易江西省网友]:

Police, put an end to each and every one of them.

巧巧蜗牛 [网易北京市网友]:

Police, hurry and solve the case, and strictly investigate these two groups of people.

春盎然 [网易北京市网友]:

Police, hurry and solve the case, and strictly investigate these two groups of people.

Although this is the “most-discussed” article as determined by number of comment participants (votes on comments), there is something very suspicious. Please see Kai’s comment below.

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  • Kai

    All of the translated comments on this article translated above are very likely fake.

    Why?

    1. They’re all relatively short in length and similar in message, condemning such behavior as endangering social order and calling for those responsible to be brought to justice.

    2. All of the comments were posted within a 45 minute span.

    3. The number of upvotes for the top ten comments are suspiciously even (~27k votes each, which has grown to ~30k while Fauna translated).

    4. None of the commenters have a profile photo.

    5. Their accounts were all registered on the same day, August 10th.

    The first two points are not necessarily unusual, but the last three are extremely unusual. There is usually more diversity (in length and content) among genuine comments made by real netizens, and a wider range and distribution of upvotes among the top ten comments. While real commenters may not necessarily add a profile photo to their account, it is unsual for all ten commenters to not have one. Point 5 is self-explanatory.

    We’d like to solicit some feedback from the community about this issue, please click here to jump to our discussion and reply with your thoughts. Thanks.

    • ClausRasmussen

      Good catch

    • nqk123

      they do have an army of trolls you know. some of them are really good.

      • TheInconvenientRuth

        I would be very good at that. Does it pay well?

        • Marcus

          5 Mao per comment…

  • Kai

    We’d like your feedback:

    cS aims to translate what is popular or trending on the Chinese internet. Since the popularity of this article was artificially manipulated, we have to ask whether or not we should cover it.

    On one hand, if the top comments and the upvotes that made the article “popular” are fake, then this article wasn’t actually and genuinely popular with Chinese netizens.

    On the other hand, the fact that it was artificially made “popular” does mean it ended up getting more attention from real Chinese netizens who clicked through to see what this “most popular” article is about. Although they are buried under the fake comments, there are also real comments made by real netizens in the article’s comment section.

    We are often torn about whether or not we should cover artifically padded and manipulated Chinese internet content like this. It isn’t legitimately “popular” but it still represents an aspect of Chinese internet media and culture that many Chinese netizens themselves are aware of and live with.

    More importantly, we generally avoid editorializing our work with our own opinions and insights. We avoid this so our readers can draw their own conclusions, make their own epiphanies, and not be spoon-fed what to think. The reason is because we think there is value in readers serendipitously discovering, realizing, and connecting things for themselves, and then perhaps sharing it with others in our comments section. We want to facilitate, not tell.

    So when we encounter a situation like this, should we keep our silence and let readers figure it out for themselves?

    We conspicuously provide links to the original source so our readers can check our work and investigate further for themselves. But if readers don’t investigate the original source, would they notice that none of the top 10 comments had profile photos and suspiciously similar amounts of upvotes? Would they be able to click on the names of the commenters to reach their profile pages and discover that their accounts were all registered on the same day?

    We’ve translated “popular” Chinese internet content that was “manipulated” before, and we’ve pointed out suspicious activity before as well, sometimes in our translation itself and sometimes separately in the comments as in this case.

    Should we continue to do both?

    Or should we pass over them, as we have at times, to focus on the content whose popularity we believe to be genuine?.

    • guest

      I think you still should cover it due because it shows that media articles in China are subjected to unknown third party manipulation and hence bias, as long as you put a note in saying that you think that they are bias because of a,b and z. I myself have seen manipulation of articles, i.e erasing of comments that shone another light on it.

      But with manipulation occurring wouldn’t they in the end bee top stories on the Chinese internet due to them dragging in extra clicks.

    • Joey

      I think it’s good to cover this. Maybe you should provide some more information about the poster when translating? Like the stuff you mentioned: Date registered, profile picture, stuff like that. Show it the same way like you show the original text (so you’ll only see it when you hover over it).

    • Markus P

      I think China smack should still cover it, but explain that it is believed to be manipulated.

    • ClausRasmussen

      It gives great insight into the manipulation of the Chinese internet. What is special about your coverage of this is that it is documented beyond any doubt, while other Western media only have second hand reports of it.

      Please keep covering it

    • SongYii

      cover.

    • Teacher in China

      My wife just brought up a good point to me: what is the purpose of these fake comments in this case? It’s not like they’re extolling the government or anything. Is it just to foster a sense of “we need the police/government, only they can help us” amongst the online commenters?

      • ClausRasmussen

        You got a point. My guess is that Chinese commentors would have posted very similar comments all by themselves

      • iLcOrNaLiTo

        “To have such vulgar behavior in a civilized society…” Civilized…you see how the government makes the people believe this lie.

      • mr.wiener

        I’m kind of guessing it is “pay no attention to that man behind the curtain”. Not sure they can keep a lid on the whole thing going down in HK at the moment…but perhaps the suggestion is that Chinese people can’t be trusted to rule themselves?(and this from their own goverment…the racist bastards!)
        I”m probably over thinking this, but it is interesting to wonder why they would be doing this.

        • ClausRasmussen

          >> why they would be doing this

          It doesn’t have to be more than one individual or small group in need of filling the monthly quota of posts to get a bonus or to stay in their jobs

        • must touch brain

          No, i think you’re on the right track. The timing is impeccable with all that’s going on in HK. They need as much news in the mainland as possible now to keep the attention of the masses so as they stay in the dark about HK.

        • Joe

          the censor machine is on overdrive right now, they even blocked Instagram.

        • Teacher in China

          Yeah agreed it is interesting. You may be overthinking a little. Never seemed like the gov’t here could be that subtle in their propaganda. The theory above about police carrying guns seems good to me though.

      • Don’t Believe the Hype

        “what is the purpose of the fake comments?” Because Chinese policeman just started having the right to carry guns. This is meant to show that it is necessary.
        http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/after-china-gives-police-new-guns-spate-of-suspicious-shootings-follows/2014/09/26/7a150ab0-21c2-11e4-86ca-6f03cbd15c1a_story.html

        • hang

          I wonder how well Chinese are aware of this manipulation?

          • Don’t Believe the Hype

            i dont think it has gotten much media attention yet, maybe this is the prelude

        • Teacher in China

          Thanks for that. That is definitely a workable theory.

    • Teacher in China

      I think you should definitely keep showing these articles, but there has to be a clear warning that they have been manipulated. It will always be interesting to me to see what stories the government thinks need manipulating and engaging in conversation about why that might be.

    • FYIADragoon

      In the instance that you are simply trying to clarify possible manipulation of an article’s popularity I think it is useful that you state whether or not the votes were manipulated.

    • Brido227

      Keep showing them. The whole point about responsible journalism is that it presents facts on which readers can come to informed opinions.

      Stick to presenting the facts and keeping analysis clearly labelled and you’re providing a valuable service.

    • Mr. S.

      Keep it. Make sure you note the story is hyped in the headline (don’t make me wait until the first comment). Every publication has an editorial policy. cS doesn’t translate every top story every day. You already pick and choose (if nothing else out of necessity), so if you think the hyped story is the most worthy to be translated out of the bunch for that day or span of days, then so be it.

    • Dick Leigh

      I personally want Chinasmack to keep translating these types of articles, but I worry about whether this sort of thing might get the website in trouble with the authorities. If Chinasmack got itself banned in China, then we lose a major bridge between Chinese and western culture in China.

    • firebert5

      I’m game. I think ChinaSmack has at times grown past a strict “Most popular story” modus operandi and at times provided a look into the media culture in China itself. This is simply an example of that.

    • must touch brain

      Cover at your own risk. If the government is behind it, they may try to get to you when you expose their little schemes.

    • David

      Definitely keep reporting them. As they say “The more you know…” Wait, was that answer too short? Does it look like I am not a fake account supporting CS?

    • KenjiAd

      I think you should pass over the articles whose popularity you believe was clearly manipulated like in this case.

      For one thing, not doing so would make cS an unintended enabler of dissemination of the manipulated article, just as intended by the manipulator/publisher.

      Perhaps more importantly, I think cS editors are duty-bound to select what they believe are genuinely popular articles. I understand that you don’t want to “editorialize” the content of cS articles. But editorial discretion, I believe, should be called in when you are confronted with the article whose popularity is artificially inflated and that should not be translated in the first place. Most of those “popular” articles are some sort of advertisement, and really have no importance.

      But, it looks like I’m the only one who thinks this way.

  • CIA

    Strongly denounce Chinasmack conspiracy theories upsetting social order and harmonious society.

    • Butsu

      You should call it in.

    • David

      If I up-vote do I get the Wu mao? Or is that the other guys?

  • Ken Morgan

    I dunno maybe do an Amazon? where they show the top and bottom reviews? cS might want to do say 5 at the top, 5 in the middle and 5 at the bottom.

  • CIA

    Police, hurry and solve the case, and strictly investigate these groups of China smack moderators.

    • mr.wiener

      It was Kai, I’m an innocent victim of their conspiracy, I want to cooperate with the authorities and turn state’s evidence.

  • CIA

    Bring these lawless groups of Chinasmack moderators to justice, so they do not destroy public order again.

  • Raymond

    So the theory is that this whole gunfight was fabricated?

    • Ken Morgan

      It’s possible, but guns are banned in the UK. This does not stop the odd gun fight erupting here and there.

    • ClausRasmussen

      The comments are clearly manipulated. Some think that the gunfight is staged too, but that’s too close to a conspiracy theory imo.

      Low powered homemade weapons loaded with bird shots could chip the car windows and bounce off the body work like in the photos. It is also hard to imagine how the local authorities would benefit from staging a Wild West shootout

  • bossel

    Strongly favour such informative posts. You people are showing the true flavour of a harmonious society.

    • Terrik

      Ding if you agree!

    • CIA

      I agree comrade we must put an end to Chinasmack moderator lawlessness strongly denounce such Chinasmack moderators and hope police catch them soon.

  • Amused

    Ten guys shooting at each other and no one hit… Admittedly zip guns aren’t exactly known for their accuracy, but that’s a bit odd. Be interesting to see exactly what they were using= the bullet holes are rather small too. Possibly a sub .22 caliber projectile with a low powder load or some kind of home made bird shot? Real or not, if one of those cars was yours, its a sad day :(

  • CIA

    Police, put an end to each and every Chinasmack moderator.

  • Irvin

    The pics look fake, notice how only the glass got hit and not the rest of the cars? And those doesn’t look like bullet holes, some of them doesn’t even look like the glass is pierce.

    Even a modded paint ball gun would have shattered the glass. It looks more like a manual air gun that’s used for hunting birds.

    • firebert5

      I’ve done worse damage to car windows with a NOS fueled pellet gun. My friend, my little brother, and I used to go to the salvage yard and shoot out junk car windows with them.

      • Irvin

        My friend wanted to test out his newly modded painball gun and asked me to hold a thickly folded news paper (about 1/2 inch thick). It end up going through the news paper and the glass window behind it.

        Whatever guns they were using in the article were weak sauce.

    • Rick in China

      They said it was mostly home-made guns. What I found most amusing about this is:

      Who has ever heard of a shootout that riddles vehicles with bullet holes, between 20 armed men, and not ONE OF THEM GETS SHOT? Wheres the blood or bodies? Ridiculous.

  • SongYii

    what is this ‘gun as tall as a person’? this guy was just carrying this gun around while drinking at the local watering hole?

    • Brido227

      My first thought was, “You don’t get many folks gutsy/stupid enough to carry an unconcealable firearm around in China.” Maybe the commentator is just as surprised?

      • SongYii

        You can even see him in the photo! Ridiculous! Hahaha.

  • Paul Schoe

    Interesting/surprising comment. Any other people who think that the event itself was staged?

    • Cynic-Al

      You mean aside from the fact that TWO groups of men were drinking at 7am and had a conflict? Just seems odd. I know many Chinese guys abide by, “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere,” but jeez!

      • firebert5

        It might be suspicious if you had prefaced “TWO groups of men were drinking…” with the word “ONLY.” :-)

        • Cynic-Al

          Point taken.

  • Gord

    I’ve skimmed through the comments below, but haven’t seen an answer.

    Why would anyone want this story to trend? I read one comment about distracting the issue from Hong Kong…

    It’s a little weird. I don’t get it.

  • Perhaps something happened in that area and the staged shootout and comments were made as a coverup?
    And perhaps the excessive amount comments were made as an attempt to hide and/or discourage the genuine ones from being read?
    Funnily, there is no mention of what happened to the one guy who turned himself in.

  • FYIADragoon

    The Chinese finally have street gang shootouts? How long until I get 哥们儿 n the Hutong?

  • Brido227

    The picture of the white car shows clear damage to the door panel as well as window, the shot pattern and size of hole being consistent with a shotgun-type weapon. The black car has a tighter grouping of holes which have a larger diameter, indicating repeated hits around the same point of aim. Very few of them have penetrated, the ones which have being larger than the others. I’d posit two or more different weapons firing at the same target. Poor quality home loaded ammunition might explain why, I’d imagine rounds are as strictly controlled as firearms.

  • LuoyangLaowai

    Did anyone else get a good laugh at the first comment. “A CIVILIZED SOCIETY” HAHAHAHAHA

  • must touch brain

    Exactly.

  • must touch brain

    Optional headline: “Shirtless Thugs Get Paid by Chinese Government to Have Staged Gun battle”

  • Willie D

    looks like “Shirts” vrs. “Skins”…

  • David

    I will say I am very worried about the power of Chinese gunpowder. Those bullets could not even penetrate glass. What the hell where they using? Even the average zip gun will shatter auto safety glass.

  • Rose

    Everyone always thinks Guangxi is a backwater…it’s like the Alabama of China, no?

  • Xio Gen

    Why aren’t the Chinese talking about Occupy Hong Kong?

  • KSC

    Lets be more reasonable. The news did say homemade guns. That would mean more likely shotgun type. The spray and size of the bullet holes seems to correlate that. Gun smuggling is very tightly controlled.

    • mr.wiener

      That is likely also, but homeboy with the long gun is most likely a smooth bore musket. I’ve used such weapons hunting pigs down south with the bunun tribe in Taiwan. A bunch of dogs and a bunch of guys with boar spears is much more fun though.

  • 笑了

    美国佬上个月屠杀了一群黑人,是否应该叫做正义的裁决?

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