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English>>China Society

US embassy car blamed for injuring woman

(Global Times)    08:30, June 12, 2016

Fierce debate on diplomatic immunity has gone viral on Chinese social media on Saturday, after a Chinese journalist accused a US Embassy vehicle of scratching her car and allegedly causing her injuries without apologizing.

Chen Lin, a journalist of the Hong Kong-based Phoenix Television, shared a post on her Sina Weibo account on Friday, in which she said a vehicle with a US Embassy's license plate had scratched her car and left the scene on Wednesday.

According to Lin, she tried to stop the vehicle, which latter dragged her into the traffic stream and injured her.

Lin said the police told her that the owners of the vehicle "may enjoy diplomatic immunity and it's difficult to punish them."

The incident has soon gone viral on Sina Weibo under the hashtag "Can diplomats disobey laws in China?", garnering more than 12 million views and over 3,500 comments as of press time.

"I'm currently resting at home. The police said they would carry out an investigation into the incident. I will respect the procedures," Chen told the Global Times on Saturday, without giving more details of the incident.

The US Embassy and the Beijing police couldn't be reached for comments as of press time.

"It's true that some foreigners who enjoy diplomatic immunity may disobey the local laws, such as violating the traffic rules without paying the fine," Zhou Shijian, a senior research fellow at the Center for US-China Relations at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times on Saturday,

Zhou added that similar incidents happened in many countries.

But Zhu Feng, a professor of international security at Nanjing University, told the Global Times that "diplomatic immunity" can only apply to criminal cases, while in civil cases foreigners must bear liability.

According to the Provisions on the Procedures for Handling Traffic Accidents which took effect in 2009, traffic police can confiscate if necessary driving licenses from foreigners who enjoy diplomatic immunity, while the police department should send reports about the responsibility of traffic accidents to the foreigners or their embassy.

"Having diplomatic immunity doesn't mean the diplomats can ignore the laws. If severe damages were made, the victims can press a charge against the diplomat," Zhou said.

According to Zhou, foreign diplomats can be deported if the case is severe, and such moves will significantly affect the bilateral relations between the two countries.

"In this case, if the US vehicle has truly dragged Chinese citizen and caused personal injuries, the case will have to be dealt with via diplomatic channels, and the US Embassy should pay the medical fees of the victim," an expert in diplomacy who asked for anonymity told the Global Times.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Huang Jin,Bianji)

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