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    May 11, 2015

    Road rage incident has China abuzz

    A SHOCKING road rage case in China, in which a male driver hauled a female driver out of her car and kicked her in the head repeatedly, has sparked a heated debate over social trends such as gender discrimination.

    The man was pilloried for the vicious attack after video footage of the May 3 incident in south-western Chengdu city - caught on a nearby car's in-vehicle camera - went viral that night.

    But by the next day, the woman - who was hospitalised with broken ribs and a severe concussion - became the target of criticism after another video clip emerged.

    Believed to have been captured by the male driver's in-vehicle camera, the second clip showed that she had cut abruptly into his lane and raced with him.

    Some netizens said that, as she had caused the incident, she deserved the beating for endangering not only the man's life but also those of his wife and one-year-old daughter.

    A poll by Phoenix News website on Wednesday found that, of the 513,000 netizens who responded, some 65 per cent blamed the female driver while 27 per cent said both were at fault. Less than 7 per cent felt the man was to blame.

    Some netizens even posted the personal details of the woman, identified as Lu Qin, 28, online. Besides her name, age, birthplace and previous driving offences, records of her going to hotel rooms with others were reportedly also exposed.

    The episode indirectly revealed some prejudice against female drivers. A straw poll of about 110 people conducted by a blogger found that 66 per cent felt female drivers should be avoided.

    But some slammed the male driver, identified later as Zhang Xi, saying violence could not be justified even if the woman was at fault. Others called him a bully picking on a defenceless woman.

    Media reports said Mr Zhang, who has been detained and could be charged with causing grievous harm, had tried to attack the woman with a screwdriver. A taxi driver was hurt trying to stop him.

    Observers say the case exposes several worrying trends in Chinese society, one of which is disorderly driving habits that neglect other people's safety.

    Beijing-based lawyer Mo Shaoping said he was appalled by the invasion of Ms Lu's privacy by "irrational" netizens who should have left the matter to the law.

    Sociologist Tang Jun of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said the saga also exposes the lack of a strong consensus in China that violence should not be condoned under any circumstances.

    "We should do more to educate our people that the person who assaults another is solely to blame, and whoever strikes first will have to bear the most blame."