Military-style squads swoop on kissing students on Chinese college campus

A Chinese college has come under fire for deploying squads dressed in military uniforms to crack down on couples who kiss and cuddle on campus.

The student patrols wear camouflage and helmets, and perform intimidating night-time drills marching around Binzhou Vocational College, in the eastern Shandong province, according to videos shared on Chinese social media.

A college official said the squads were responsible for clamping down on a range of "inappropriate behaviour", including smoking and dropping litter. 

But many in China were outraged that they have also been given powers to warn couples against showing public affection, and to threaten them with being named and shamed for their behaviour.

Many in China – particularly older generations – are deeply conservative, and public affection is rare in the country.

But an adventurous generation of young, mainly urban Chinese are pushing back the frontiers of what is accepted, and attitudes are far removed from the puritan days of radical Communist Party rule that their parents lived under.

An adventurous generation of young, mainly urban Chinese are pushing back the frontiers of what is acceptedCredit:

The campus crackdown comes amid a wider war on immoral living that has been launched since President Xi Jinping assumed leadership of the Party in 2012.

Crass and vulgar comment has been targeted on the Chinese Internet, while authorities have sought to curb news reports which promote "Western values".

Strict regulations on gluttony and “improper sexual relations” have also been rolled out for the Communist Party’s 88 million members.

But Binzhou Vocational College’s student squads sparked a backlash on social media after a video went viral showing a trio of men wearing helmets and military attire confronting a couple who were embracing.

The Paper, a Shanghai-based news portal, quoted a college employee saying that the patrol had only sought to give the couple a warning, but that the male student “threw a fit”.

There were many comments on Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, expressing anger that touchy-feely couples were being intimidated by the military-style squads.

"What a freak school!" said one. "The headmaster obviously doesn’t have a happy marriage."

Another said: "College students can get married, so why can’t they have romantic relationships?”

Media reports said the school had warned in an online post that “serious offenders” could have their names released and face public criticism on the campus.

It comes after another college in the city of Rizhao – which is also in Shandong province – came under fire last year for rolling out a campaign against kissing, cuddling and "uncivilised" behaviour. 

The Shandong Foreign Languages Vocational College set up a designated room where students could see photographs of their peers who been involved in "uncivilised behaviour”, such as holding hands.

Additional reporting by Christine Wei

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