Public opinion has saved a waitress in Badong county, Hubei Province from being charged with murder after she stabbed an official who allegedly demanded sexual favours from her.
The story made headlines last month when on May 10 Deng Yujiao was cornered by Deng Guida (no relation), the head of a trade department of the town, demanded "special services" -- in other words -- sexual services -- at the Yesanguan Xiongfeng hotel she worked as a pedicurist.
He and his subordinate cornered the 21-year-old and Deng hit her on the head with a wad of money.
She said Deng Guida, 44, said: "Don't you want money? You have never seen any money! How much money do you want? Would you believe it if I beat you to death with money. I'm going to get a truckload of money and squash you to death."
They pushed her onto a sofa where she either managed to get a fruit knife or a pedicurist's knife -- the story is foggy here -- from her purse and stabbed Deng who later died of his injuries, The subordinate was injured.
After the incident she called police and voluntarily surrendered.
On May 18 the police said what she did as a crime and could face murder charges, not taking into account she gave herself up. They claimed the murder weapon was a fruit knife and so it could have been premeditated, but many of the general public believed she used whichever instrument she had as self-defense.
The authorities also later claimed that Deng was mentally unstable, finding medication in her purse.
But when the story hit the Internet, there was outrage against the official for not only treating the young woman as a sex object, but also for officials who think they can get away with mistreating the people they should be serving.
One said: "Why do so many government officials like to make fun of the public? Don't you know that with each time public trust in you is falling?"
Another wrote: "This case is not just about Deng Yujiao. It's about the issue of trust of the Government, about the issue of public confidence."
Some wondered whether the money used to hit Deng on her head were taxpayers' money and were angered by the strong possibility.
The case attracted so much media attention on the town that police went so far as to beat up two reporters who were trying to get more information on the story and tried to seal off the town from anymore bad press.
Also the police apparently put pressure on Deng's mother to fire the two lawyers who were defending her. The pair were so shocked, saying: "We wish to express our strong indignation at the improper actions of the Government."
But now there is vindication.
Deng was later released on bail and yesterday it was reported that two officials related to the case were sacked, and one of them who pushed Deng lost his Communist Party of China membership.
And today it was reported by Xinhua that the murder charge against Deng has been dropped. She will instead be charged with using "excessive force" in defending herself against sexual assault.
This shows how strong public opinion can be in China and how it can sway the legal system -- which is basically controlled by the government. One will first be tried in the court of public opinion before the court of law.
So make sure your story is a good one.