September 1, 2008
Yang Jia, a 28-year-old unemployed man from Beijing, appeared in court in Shanghai charged with an alleged attack against the police on July 1, the anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party.
Mr Yang is said to have thrown molotov cocktails into a police station in Zhabei, a northern suburb of the city, before entering the building and attacking a group of unarmed officers with a knife. He was arrested at the scene.
However, instead of condemnation, he has received widespread approval from Chinese internet users, or netizens, for his apparent act of defiance.
He has become a symbol for the growing number of people who are attacking Chinese police in protest at the brutality of the state.
Mr Yang has even been compared to Wu Song, one of the greatest heroes in Chinese literature, who killed a tiger with his bare hands.
One message left on his MySpace page said: “You have done what most people want to do, but do not have enough courage to do”.
The prosecution said Mr Yang had acted out of “revenge” after he was caught by police riding an unlicensed bicycle last October and interrogated. He later sued the Shanghai police for 10,000 yuan (¬£803) for psychological damage, but his claim was rejected.
Mr Yang is rumoured to have been badly beaten and maimed by police.