David Wertime

Would-Be Hijackers in Western China Run into Police Tour Group?

Bloomberg and other mainstream Western outlets have already reported that, according to Chinese news sources, six would-be hijackers from Xinjiang province were restrained by passengers ten minutes after take-off in Hotang, a remote city in western Xinjiang Uigur Autonomous Region. However, overseas rights groups maintain the outcome was simply the result of an argument over seat assignments. A good Associated Press summary (via the Huffington Post) is available here.

But Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter, contains some interesting additional details. It not only contains photographs (at left) purporting to show the aftermath of the on-tarmac struggle, but details about some of the other passengers.

Netizens reported that some of the would-be hijackers were apparently disguised as disabled persons and carried crutches that could be disassembled into metal sticks.  They also claimed to have a bomb.

Caixin Magazine has written (in Chinese) that the would-be hijackers had the misfortune of being on the same flight as approximately 20 local police officers who were travelling for a training. Popular microblogger @侯宁 has written that, in addition, approximately 40 members of China’s equivalent of SWAT team members (特警) also happened to be on board, though this comment may have been tongue-in-cheek. One user, @林建中_约战上海, wrote that this would make the would-be hijackers “the year’s saddest terrorists.” 

沙茶小二-zi阳 tweets, “They forgot to consult the Fortune Calendar (黄历) [a popular Chinese calendar that marks propitious dates for everything from weddings to leaving on a journey].”  e王益成 enjoyed the whole episode, writing: “Good screenwriting, good directing and great acting.” 

Reflecting on a common practice of civil servants travelling on the public dime, 赵小翔_Daddy quipped, “We finally get some benefit from civil servants travelling using public funds.” 




Jump To Comments

David Wertime

David is the co-founder and co-editor of Tea Leaf Nation. He first encountered China as a Peace Corps Volunteer in 2001 and has lived and worked in Fuling, Chongqing, Beijing, and Hong Kong. He is a ChinaFile fellow at the Asia Society and an associate fellow at the Truman National Security Project.