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China police feast on endangered salamanders, beat up reporters who saw them

Fourteen police officers in the southern China city of Shenzhen have been suspended after local media accused them of eating protected salamanders at a seafood restaurant, and beating journalists who tried to expose their luxury dinner.

Twenty-eight people attended the salamander banquet. The suspended police officers hold high-ranking posts in Shenzhen, according to the Southern Metropolis Daily.

After undercover reporters investigating the restaurant in Shenzhen’s Luohu district were exposed, the police allegedly beat them.

Wang Yuanping, head of Public Security Bureau Dongshen branch, is under investigation following the incident.

The suspended police officers said they paid for the luxury meal, which cost more than 6,000 yuan ($960), out of their own pockets.

The endangered and protected Salamander has become a delicacy in China because of its reputed anti-aging effects, giving rise to a new salamander-farming industry. The suspended police officers claimed that the salamanders they feasted on were raised on farms.

Many citizens said the officials violated President Xi Jinping’s frugality rules even though the lavish dinner was not paid for with public funds.

Sources: Reuters, Beijing News (新京报), Southern Metropolis Daily (南方都市报)

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Hui Zhi is the Senior Manager for Content with the China Compliance Digest, where a version of this post first appeared.

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