5 Sep 2012

Army officer suspended over alleged assault

6:30 am on 5 September 2012

China has suspended an army officer after reports he assaulted a flight attendant spread like wildfire on the Chinese internet.

The Xinhua news agency said Fang Daguo, a military official from Guangzhou, was suspended after he and his wife had an altercation with flight attendant over the couple's carry-on luggage on a flight from Hefei to Guangzhou last week.

The BBC says the incident on Wednesday came to light after the attendant, employed by China Southern Airlines, reported it on her microblog, with photos of her bruised arms and torn uniform.

Shanghai Daily reported her account was retweeted more than 30,000 times, sparking a storm of angry comments.

The Global Times, a popular tabloid owned by the People's Daily, said on Sunday that reports of such incidents were spreading like wildfire online as conflict between citizens and local officials was increasing.

"It's hard to improve officials' public image if they fail to stand up to public scrutiny and remain passive in communication with the people," the paper said.