2012 Jun 13 Of Elements & Embassies: Is It Safe to Go Out?
By now you will all likely have read the recent email (see below) from the US Embassy in Beijing regarding an incident where one of its employees was assaulted in Elements. Every so often, embassies will release such a statement and it gets coverage in the media. This particular case is likely to have been exacerbated by other recent high-profile incidents such as this and this.
We're not doubting the veracity of the attack happening (who are we to take on the US government?) but, as with other recent public incidents, we wanted to present you with a balanced perspective on what's going in our city. We spoke to the PR of Elements and they confirmed to us that there was indeed a melee on June 9. The fight got out of hand and the club security was called in to deal with it. In the process, some patrons were ejected from the club. Elements went on to add that their door staff are not trained to hit people with bottles so they'd be very surprised if the attackers were their staffers; it could have been any of the people involved in the original incident.
We weren't there, so we can't confirm either side's account. All we can do is offer you this: We expats live in a major metropolis that is, for most of us, safer than the cities we came from. Some foreigners here exhibit behavior that they'd get a hiding for back home. This fact is all too easy to forget.
On the other hand, Chinese security guards can be overzealous and lack the proper training that Western countries enforce; sometimes those same bouncers are lauded for breaking up fights; sometimes they really are scumbags who assault patrons for fun. Either way, don't give them a reason to get involved.
Many unfortunate incidents could be avoided if people acted with the same common sense that they would if they were in their home country.
- Don't get drunk out of your mind (and if you do, then don't wander off on your own).
- Try to walk away from confrontation whenever possible.
- Don't let a small number of incidents (however horrendous they appear or how much media attention they get) discourage you from having a good time.
- If you sense trouble, get up and leave. There's plenty of other bars in this town.
If you're still worried, stay tuned for our upcoming blog post on self-defense. Be safe.
Here's the original email from the US Embassy in full:
"In the early morning hours of Saturday, June 9, a group of local nationals assaulted an employee of the U.S. Embassy in Beijing inside the Element nightclub, located on the west side of Workers' Stadium near Sanlitun. The employee, who was out with some colleagues, was hit in the head with a sharp object as he was dancing away from the group.
According to witnesses, the employee fell to the floor and was repeatedly beaten and kicked in the head by individuals serving as bouncers for the nightclub. By all accounts, the attack was unprovoked.
This is not the first report of violence directed at U.S. citizens in the nightclubs outside of Workers' Stadium. In September 2010, another employee of the U.S. Embassy in Beijing was assaulted inside a different nightclub at the north end of Workers' Stadium in another unprovoked incident. Private U.S. citizens have also reported being victims of crime in the nearby area.
U.S. citizens are reminded to use caution when enjoying the nightlife in Beijing. Maintaining an awareness of your surroundings and keeping a low profile are critical to avoiding potential problems."