Old assault video misleads online following vicious attack on women in Tangshan in northern China

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Violent footage of a man beating up two women has been watched thousands of times in Chinese-language social media posts that claim the assault happened shortly after a vicious attack in China's Hebei province that sparked outrage in the country. However, the clip has been shared in a misleading context; it has circulated online in news reports that state it was filmed in Hebei in August 2018.

The graphic video was shared on Twitter on June 16, 2022, and has since been viewed more than 7,400 times.

The video, which appears to have been filmed inside a restaurant, shows a man hitting a woman with a chair before he punches her and repeatedly slams her head against a table.

He also strikes another woman -- who appears to have come over to stop the assault -- with a chair, before kicking and punching her, and then bashing her over the head with a chair.

The video's Chinese-language caption translates as: "The Tangshan barbecue shop incident hasn't even died down; women were beat up again in Handan."

Handan is a city in China's northern Hebei province.

The post circulated days after viral footage of a violent assault on a group of women at a restaurant in Tangshan -- also in Hebei -- sparked outrage over predatory sexual behaviour.

The Tangshan incident renewed an online debate about sexual harassment and gender-based violence in China where the conversation around women's rights has grown in recent years despite pressure from a patriarchal society, internet censorship and patchy legal support. 

Simplified Chinese characters superimposed on the video in the misleading post claims it shows a "sequel" to the Tangshan attack.

A screenshot, taken on June 17, 2022, of the misleading post

The video was also shared with similar claims it shows a "sequel" to the Tangshan incident on Facebook and Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok.

However, AFP did not find any recent reports of a similar attack in Handan following the Tangshan incident.

In fact, the video shared in the posts predates the Tangshan assault by over three years.

Old Handan assault video

Combined reverse image and keyword searches on Baidu found the same video published on August 30, 2018 by WeVideo, a news project jointly launched by Chinese news organisation The Beijing News and tech firm Tencent

The news report that featured the video was titled: "Hebei Handan: three men clashed with neighbouring diners while eating and brutally beat up women with stools".

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video in one of the misleading posts (left) and the clip in the WeVideo report (right):

Local news organisations Guancha and Beijing Time also reported on the incident in 2018 and featured corresponding clips in their articles.

The reports stated the incident happened in Handan's Yongnian district.

Two suspects were initially arrested for the attack, according to an incident report issued by the public security bureau in Yongnian.