WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
A university student in Shandong Province has been expelled from school after videos of him mercilessly torturing and murdering cats surfaced on the Chinese internet, causing an outpouring of anger and revulsion, as well as feverish calls for stricter laws against animal cruelty.
The expulsion was announced (in Chinese) by Shandong University of Science and Technology (SDUST) on April 15, roughly a week after internet users discovered a Weibo account belonging to the abuser Fàn Yuánqìng 范源庆, who used the platform to advertise footage of him brutally torturing kittens to potential buyers who share the same sickening interest.
Judging from a catalog of content that Fan shared on his Weibo page, he has killed more than 80 cats over the course of two months before he was exposed. Most of the victims were stray cats he captured on campus, although he also acquired some from the internet. There were more than 100 extremely disturbing clips available for purchase, including videos of him beating cats, shocking them with electricity, forcing them to eat hot peppers, and choking them with burning metals. Most of the clips ended with the cats being dead or unconscious.
On April 9, SDUST issued a statement (in Chinese) on Weibo after angry comments condemning Fan for animal cruelty began pouring in. In the statement, the school confirmed that Fan was a math major, saying that the university had “seriously criticized and educated” Fan in light of the controversy. “We apologize for the negative impact caused by the issue,” the school wrote, adding that it would further investigate the case.
On the same day, Fan also published an apology via the Weibo account that landed him in trouble. “I’m overwhelmed with shame and regret,” he said. “From now on, I’ll be an animal lover to make up for the mistakes I made before. I sincerely ask for your forgiveness. Please give me a second chance.”
His words of penitence, however, soon turned out to be a public performance. In the following days, internet users found out (in Chinese) that Fan was using his secondary Weibo accounts with various aliases to make hateful comments about animal rights activists. When confronted by one user, Fan lashed out through private messages, telling the person that he would make a comeback in a few months when the attention wanes. “The school can do no harm to me! You can do no harm to me!” he said.
On April 13, Fan went off the rails while using the primary Weibo account that he employed to issue the initial apology. “I am telling you slaves of cats! If I get rejected by the graduate school I am applying for, I will murder 1,000 cats. I’ll show you how to put them through physical pain step by step,” Fan wrote. While he deleted the post almost immediately, Weibo users were quick enough to take a screenshot of Fan’s remarks and called for him to be more severely punished.
In response to the mounting pressure, SDUST announced Fan’s expulsion yesterday, saying that the decision was made after an internal investigation assisted by the local police.
People who believed that Fan should be arrested and charged for animal cruelty complained that being kicked out of the school was a light punishment. They also expressed concerns over the possibility of Fan abusing more cats as an act of revenge. “He is a psychopath! I’m afraid that he will harm more cats if he isn’t properly punished for his actions,” a Weibo user commented.
While issues about animal welfare and protection have been a fairly hot topic in China for the past couple of years, which has led to a growing awareness from Chinese officials and lawmakers, there is currently no nationwide legislation in the country explicitly banning cruelty to animals. In the wake of Fan’s incident, many people on Chinese social media have been calling on the authorities to ramp up their legal efforts to protect animals from mistreatment.