A man who police described as “incoherent” and “showing confusion of thinking” plowed his car into the guard rail of the American consulate in Shanghai late Thursday evening, injuring an armed guard.
China’s Xinhua state news service ran a story early this morning saying police had identified the man as Liu Daojie, 35, from Sanming City of Fujian. They said Liu claimed to be targeted in a murder plot and rammed his car into the embassy to “provoke an incident to draw people’s attention” to his plight.
The police’s statement went on to say that Liu claimed to be the head of a major company in his home province, before quoting him as saying: “I drove from Hangzhou to Shanghai today, and saw the place is guarded by armed police. So I crashed my car into it.”
The incident began at 9.43pm Thursday, when Liu’s black Toyota sedan veered sharply off the road and collided with the barricade at the side entrance of the consulate, located in Shanghai’s central Xuhui district. Police promptly placed him into custody. An AFP article says photos of Liu’s wrecked car quickly made the rounds on Weibo and other domestic social media, showing that the vehicle “appeared to have mounted the pavement” before crashing into a guardrail beside the consulate’s sentry box.
Vehicular violence is far from unprecedented in the PRC. In November 2013 a jeep crashed into a crowd in Beijing’s Tiananmen square, claiming five lives. However, that instance was billed as a terrorist attack and the drivers, deemed to be separatists from China’s contentious Xinjiang region, were executed this past August.
Thursday night’s incident did not inspire the same public panic and fears of escalated ethnic tensions. Instead, most social media users mocked Liu. One viral post read: “Fujian people have a hard time to get American visas. That’s probably why he hates them so bad and did this.” Another user wrote: “He must have been drunk to drive like that.”
But police have ruled out impaired driving, and say an investigation is underway. The Hong Kong Standard reported that the armed officer who was hit by Liu’s car only suffered minor injuries on “head, face and chest.” The article went on to quote a spokesman who said the consulate will be “open for business as usual today.”