Mayor says com­ments not meant to of­fend

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - By HOULIQIANG in Beijing and LI YINGQING in Kun­ming Con­tact the writ­ers at houliqiang@chi­nadaily.com.cn

A mayor in Yun­nan prov­ince has de­nied that he branded the Miao eth­nic group “hor­ri­ble” and de­scribed its cul­ture as “witch­craft”.

Ne­ti­zens and com­mu­nity lead­ers have called for Gong Qing, act­ing mayor of Wen­shan, to apol­o­gize over com­ments he is said to have made in a meet­ing on Oct 26 to dis­cuss a theme park fea­tur­ing Miao cul­ture.

The re­marks “went vi­ral in WeChat groups forMiao peo­ple in Yun­nan, Guizhou and Hu­nan prov­inces and Beijing, spark­ing un­prece­dented in­dig­na­tion”, ac­cord­ing to an email from a Miao re­search so­ci­ety to the Yun­nan Eth­nic and Re­li­gious Af­fairs Com­mis­sion that was shared with China Daily on Tues­day.

Gong was also ac­cused of say­ing he had been warned that Miao women use sor­cery to en­snare men, and had asked, “Why should we pro­mote this kind of cul­ture?”

The gov­ern­ment of the Wen­shan Zhuang and Miao au­ton­o­mous pre­fec­ture has launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the mat­ter. A state­ment re­leased via ws­news.com.cn, a news por­tal af­fil­i­ated with the local au­thor­ity, quoted Gong as say­ing that he has “merely been giv­ing sug­ges­tions” and was not in­sult­ing Miao peo­ple.

Of­fi­cials lead­ing the probe have talked with the 20 peo­ple present at the meet­ing, four of whom con­firmed that they had heard Gong’s re­marks, ac­cord­ing to the state­ment. It added: “One of them said the re­marks were made dur­ing a dis­cus­sion and were not in­tended to in­sult or dis­crim­i­nate. The other three re­fused to com­ment.”

The eth­nic af­fairs com­mis­sion said on Tues­day that, if Gong were found to have vi­o­lated the law, “we will urge the pre­fec­ture gov­ern­ment to deal with the mat­ter ac­cord­ing to the law, reg­u­la­tions and dis­ci­plines”.

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