China beating: Anger after man mistaken for petitioner

A Chinese tourist was badly beaten up after being mistaken for a petitioner who wanted to lobby the authorities in Beijing, state media report.

Zhao Zhipei and three others were dragged from a hotel and bundled into a van before being dumped in their home province of Henan.

Mr Zhao was later found unconscious on a road in Luoyang city. The case caused anger on China's social media sites.

Six local officials have been punished for the beating, state media said.

Millions of people petition government offices across China every year to try to resolve disputes or complain about official misconduct.

They are often treated as a nuisance and many are rounded up by police to stop them complaining.

The Beijing News said Mr Zhao had checked into a Beijing hotel and ended up sharing a room with three other people, who were genuine petitioners.

The following day unidentified men dragged them out of the hotel and they were taken back to their home province, Henan, in central China.

"Perhaps the wrong person was caught," police in Luoyang told the newspaper.

Officials quoted by Xinhua news agency said employees of a Beijing security firm hired by the Luoyang Letters and Calls bureau had carried out the beating.

One official at the Letters and Calls bureau has been removed from his post and another suspended, Xinhua reported.

Four others have been given warnings, while a senior official has apologised to Mr Zhao.