The Death of the Internet Addict Youth Deng Senshan

(Southern Metropolis Weekly)  The Death of the Internet Addict Youth Deng Senshan.  By Dan Chongshan.  August 14, 2009.

It was late night on August 2nd.  Deng Senshan laid in the refrigerated casket still wearing the camouflage uniform issued by the Set Sail Rescue Training Camp.

The marks on his body showed that this 15-year-old boy was subjected to inhumane treatment while he was alive: his arms and upper torso were covered with wound marks, his eyes were swollen and his face was covered with dried blood stains.

Deng Fei stood by his son while crying his heart out.  He was very sorry: "We sent him over there to quit his addiction to the Internet.  We never imagined that we were sending our son to the guillotine!"  Deng Senshan's uncle Li Jian took final photos of the young man as tears came out of his eyes.

On the afternoon of August 1st, Deng Fei took his son Deng Senshan to the Set Sail Rescue Training Camp located in Wuxu town, Nanning city.  As he walked out of the iron gate, he expected to see a brand new son one month later.

At 7am on August 2nd, he got news that his son was dead.  It had been only 14 hours since Deng Senshan went into the training camp.

In Deng Fei's eyes, his son only had a minor problem of Internet addiction.

In the third year of elementary school, Deng Senshan became obsessed with online games.  It did not matter what the family members told him.  So Deng Fei had to buy a home computer.  At the same time, his scholastic results began to deteriorate.

In July this year, Deng Senshan graduated from elementary school.  On a general variety program on Guangxi TV, Deng Fei saw the television advertisement from the Set Sail Rescue Training Camp.  "The children changed remarkably after being sent there."  Deng Fei thought that his son was an Internet addict too.  So he decided to send him there.

When the family left their home in Ziyuan county, Deng Senshan thought that they were only traveling on vacation.  In Beihai, Deng Senshan took a swim and even rescued a woman who was being dragged into the ocean by the riptide.

At around 1pm on August 1, the family reached the training camp.

Deng Fei found that it was not a large place.  There was a three-storey teaching building with steel bars on the windows and verandahs.  There was also a small exercise area which was surrounded by a 4-meter-tall iron fence.

The students there seemed to have all been trained to be well-mannered as they greeted visitors.  This met Deng Fei's expectations.  So Deng Fei quickly paid the 7,000 RMB tuition for one month.  He also signed the agreement to appoint the camp to "instruct and train."  As the father left, Deng Senshan did not get to bid farewell to his family.  He had been dragged by the instructor into the confinement cell.

Xiao Wei had gone there more than a month ago.  So he was used to seeing this kind of scene.  This was the "compulsory course" for every new student.  Usually, they are forced to stand two days and one night in the detention cell with no food or sleep.  During that time, they are only allowed several half-hours of rest and water break.  If they refuse to obey, the instructor will extend the period of confinement.

The sound of Deng Senshan being assaulted was clearly audible to Xiao Wei who was standing outside the confinement cell.  About ten minutes or so later, a veteran student "rushed to get a mop."  He said, "His head is bleeding.  The blood has to wiped off the floor."

The sound of Deng Senshan being beaten and his groans reached Xiao Wei's ears on and off.

The next time that Xiao Wei saw Deng Senshan was after dinner.  They were having a group birthday party and Deng Senshan was allowed to participate.  Deng Senshan was still wearing the clothes that he had on when he came.  The front chest was covered with blood.  He was told to put on the camouflage uniform.  Xiao Ding remembered that Deng Senshan looked well enough and joined the others in the rabbit dance.

The party was over by around 9pm.  The other students bathed and got ready to sleep.  Deng Senshan and three other students were told to continue with physical exercises.  He had to run 100 laps around the exercise field which is a bit larger than two basketball courts.

Deng Senshan was 165cm tall and weighed 65 kilograms.  He was unable to run anymore after about 30 laps, and he collapsed underneath the basketball stand.  The instructor hauled him over to the flag stand and began beating him.  The security guard Lao Zhao witnessed the scene through the wired window of his duty room.

Then Deng Senshan began to run again.  But he stopped again soon.  The instructor hit him first with the wood stick stripped from a wooden chair.  Then he hit with him with the plastic chair.  Both chairs got broken.  Because of the pain, Deng Senshan used his hands to cover himself.  The instructor kicked him down on the ground.  Deng Senshan got up and continued running again.  Very quickly he collapsed again.  The instructor ordered the students to take him to the bathroom and washed him with cold water.  He was then taken back to the dormitory.  Lao Li said that it was the deputy chief instructor who assaulted Deng Senshan.  Two other students held his hands and feet down.  "If you refuse to help when ordered, you will be beaten," said Lao Li.

Another student Xiao Li saw Deng Senshan in front of the dormitory.  "He was lying on the ground crying all the time."  Xiao Wei observed that Deng Senshan was foaming in the mouth.  It was around midnight on August 2nd.

"Suddenly he sat up and began screaming 'The bomb is going to go off' and 'People are being killed' and stuff like that," Xiao Wei recalled.

"The instructor came in a couple of times.  Then I heard a loud bang.  I don't know if the instructor hit him or the bed.  He took Deng Senshan's temperature and said that it was 40 degrees centigrade."  Xiao Li did not dare to open his eyes, but he heard Deng Senshan crying incessantly.  "As he was taken away, he grabbed my leg.  I could sense that he was trembling."

At 3am, Deng Senshan was taken to the health clinic in Wuyu county.  Ten minutes later, Deng Senshan stopped breathing.  His heart beat stopped next.  The doctor on duty Wu Qiarong said, "We tried to resuscitate him for another 30 minutes.  At 3:40am, we formally pronounced him dead."

"Let the parents worry less, let the children be happier!"  These were the words printed on the promotional material from the Set Sail Rescue Training Camp.  Xiao Wei's father kept this promotional page.  After he heard that something happened with a student there, he went over there immediately to take his son away.

In a hotel in Nanning, Xiao Wei stood up at attention when he saw the reporter.  For the next forty minutes or so, he maintained an upright posture with his hands on his knees.  HIs father said that Xiao Wei used to be very lively.

"When we went in, we were all made to stand in the confinement cell.  On the first day, I stood from noon on the first day to the evening of the second day.  I was given no food.  I was allowed to rest a little in between.  I supposed that I stood relatively less than others."  Xiao Wei said.

Xiao Ding was not as lucky when he entered the training camp on June 30.  He stood for four days and three nights with only one bun to eat.  "If you don't stand properly, you will be beaten," said Xiao Li.  "Usually, they beat you with their fists or bamboo strips about two fingers wide.  They sometimes also use broomsticks and chair/table legs.  Sometimes the instructors pick up the students and throw them into the ground."

After Xiao Ding finished with standing in the confinement cell, he had edema in his legs and face.  Then he experienced stomach problems.  "I vomited as soon as I finish eating."  These symptoms continued until July 15 when the training camp people sent him to hospital for treatment.  His parents had been totally unaware -- after parents sent their children into the training camp, they can only learn about the status of their children through the instructors and teachers.

As of August 2nd, the police has seized control of the training camp.  The parents saw that some of the buttock wounds of their children are festering, even emitting foul odors.  But not every student carried body wounds.  "I am relatively smart.  I did not whatever I was told.  Therefore, I was beaten less often."  A male student who was just being taken out to go home told the reporter.

On August 5th, some of the students had been taken away by their parents.  Those students still left in camp wrote down the telephone numbers of their families and tossed them out of the windows to the people outside.  Some even drew the maps and routes to their homes.

According to the local Nanning police and the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, the Nanning Set Sail Rescue Training Camp is a joint venture by the Guangdong Panyu Encouragement Sports Activity Planning Service Department and the Guangxi Electronic Technology School.  But it was not registered locally.  Apart from offering the grounds, the Guangxi Electronic Technology School was also qualified to recruit because it was a public school that was completely subsidized by the state.  In the joint venture agreement, it was stated that the joint venture was valid for two years.  Each year, the Guangxi Electronic Technology School was to received 120,000 yuan in management fees, plus a share of the profits.

Nanning Set Sail Rescue Training Camp principal Xia Zheng and 12 other persons have been detained.  According to Xia Zheng, the training camp moved on May 16th from Zhanjiang (Guangdong) to Nanning with 60 students.  In Nanning, they recruited another 128 students.  At the time of the incident, 66 students have graduated.  According to a Southern Metropolis Daily report, many students at the Encouragement and Set Sail Rescue training camps in Guangzhou also claimed to have been beaten by their instructors.

This created certain difficulties for administration.  The Nanning Department of Education deputy director Liu Biao and Nanning city Department of Industry and Commercial Regulatory Section director Zheng Long both said that it is hard to classify these Internet addiction healing centers under the existing regulations.  They are waiting for more concrete documents from their superiors.  The ambiguity of the administration is one reason why the Nanning Set Sail Rescue Training Camp can exist illegally for two and a half months.

The fee was not cheap here.  7,000 yuan for a month.  12,000 yuan for two months.  15,000 yuan for three months.  Many parents told the reporter that they sent their children here after watching the television ads on the Guangxi Variety Channel.

According to the classification by China Youth Political Institute Department of Law instructor Wang Xin, the principal ways in China to cure Internet addiction are: quality education; psychiatrists; training camps; etc.

The television ads that they parents are talking about usually appear during the regular program <The Frontline Tonight>.  In the agreement with the Panyu Sports Activities Planning Services Department with the television program group, it was stated clearly: "Each program shall be about 15 minutes of so and the advertising fee is 140,000 yuan."

These films usually start with the bad things done by young Internet addicts and end with their being reformed after attending the training camp.  "These were all people that they selected from the training camp to make the films."  Xiao Wei said.

This was not the first time that Set Sail Rescue Training Camp has worked with a television station in this manner.  Last summer, the program <Love On A String> on Nanfang TV (Guangdong) also broadcast such special films featuring the Set Sail Rescue Training Camp.

The television stations are just one link in the interest chain around Internet addiction.  Many more people share the business.  If you search for "Internet addiction" on Baidu, the first ten results are for Internet addiction healing organizations.

Huazhong Normal University special professor Tao Hongkai is the representative of the quality education school.  China Youth Psychological Development Base director Tao Ran is the representative of the psychiatrist school.  They have both emphasized the dangers of "Internet addiction" to the media.  But Tao Hongkai and Tao Ran are both contemptuous of each other's theories.  "Tao Ran is talking nonsense," said Tao Hongkai about Tao Ran.  "He is not a doctor so what is he doing here?"  Tao Ran gave this assessment of Tao Hongkai.

On May 16, Southern Daily carried a report with the title <450,000 young people need to be cured of Internet addiction in Guangdong province."  Tao Hongkai and Tao Ran do not consider this figure to be exaggerated.  "The estimate for China by the China Youth Internet Association is 10 million, so it is very normal to have 450,000 in Guangdong."  Tao Ran said that this is a huge market.

Early in 2007, Wang Xin stated in his thesis "Study of the Legality of Corrective Procedures for Internet Addiction among Youth" that the popularization of the concept of Internet addiction has brought in a whole list of legal issues.  He believed that the notion of "Internet addiction" is a dangerous, controversial concept, which is presently defined subjectively by the current standards.  Tao Ran admitted that many of his patients were deceived by their parents to come to him.  The camps in Guangzhou and Nanning even offered car services to bring people in -- they used forceful methods to take the children into the training camps.

On August 7th, the Naning government told the media that the public security bureau has formally arrested the thirteen suspected criminals on charges of "intentionally causing injury" and "illegal operation."

Deng Senshan's family is still trying to get an explanation.  Deng Fei is very rueful.  "In the car, he kept telling me, 'Dad, let's go home.  Dad, let's go home.'  In retrospect, a person can feel it."

The business around "Internet addiction" has created livelihoods for many people, but it also drowned this young man.

(Nanguo Zaobao)  Internet addict youth entered "training camp" and dies within half a day with multiple wounds on his body.  August 4, 2009.

At 710 am on the morning of August 2, Deng Fei was about to get out of bed in his Ziyuan home when he suddenly received a call from the militia police in Wuyu town, Nanning city.  They told him that his son Deng Senshan who was undergoing training at the Nanning Set Sail Rescue Training Camp was in trouble.  Deng Fei immediately called the instructor named wang at the training camp.  Wang hemmed and hawed for a while before saying: "Your son is dead."  When Deng Fei heard that, he was thunderstruck.

Deng Fei is a worker at a supply and marketing cooperative in Ziyuan county.  When the cooperative was re-structured, they were let go.  Deng Fei became an entrepreneur while his wife became a housewife who looked after their son and daughter.  16-year-old Deng Senshan liked to swim.  When the weather got hot, he would jumped into the nearby river and swim for the entire afternoon.  Because he liked to exercise, he has solid muscles.  Apart from vaccine shots, he seldom needed shots or medicine on account of illness.

Deng Senshan's school grades had been okay.  From elementary school through second year in junior middle school, he was among the top ten students in class.  Because he was gentle and active in sports, he was a lively person that his classmates and teachers all liked.  But when he got into the third year of junior middle school, he became addicted to the Internet.  He hung around in Internet cafes, often skipping meals.  The parents got concerned when they saw their son's grades deteriorating and his physical condition deteriorating.  The parents spoke to Deng Senshan, but he just refuse to listen and continued with his online games.

In late July, Deng Senshan accidentally came across a television advertisement about the Nanning Set Sail Rescue Training Camp.  The advertisement claimed that the camping camp can eliminate all sorts of harmful behavior in children through appropriate physical training and psychological counseling.  Given that the effects described on the television advertisement were so good, Deng Fei thought that his son should undergo training in order to prepare himself for the upcoming senior middle school year to start in Setpember.

On the morning of July 31, Deng Fei told his son that the family was going to swim at the Beihai beach.  At the time, it was ebb tide and a woman wearing a buoy was dragged out to sea farther and farther.  She cried for help.  Deng Fei spotted her and jumped into the sea to help her.  By the time that the life guards came in their boat, Deng Senshan had pulled the woman back to shore.  The life guards asked him if he needed help, he even said, "I'm okay."

At around 1pm on August 1, the family arrived in Nanning.  Deng Fei then told his son about sending him to the training school.  Deng Senshan was silent when he heard that.  At the time, the Nanning Set Sail Rescue Training Camp school vehicle came over to pick up Deng Senshan.  Deng Fei told his son: "Let us go to the school to take a look first.  If it is truly unacceptable, we can discuss."  So Deng Senshan got into the car reluctantly and provided to the Set Sail Rescue Training Camp that was located inside the campus of the Guangxi Electronic Technology School in the Mingyang industrial park of Wuyu town.  In the dormitory area, the children were dressed in camouflage uniforms and resting.  When they saw the instructor bringing in the Deng family, they saluted them.

Although Deng Senshan did not want to stay there, he consented reluctantly in order not to disappoint his parents.  The parents then paid 7,000 yuan for tuition and signed the agreement form provided by the school.  Before they left, the workers promised repeatedly that the child will be given a couple of days to familiarize himself with the environment without any physical training or punishment yet.  The training would begin only after he has adjusted.

When Deng Fei's wife left the school to return to Guilin, she even called the office to see if her son would be subjected to physical punishment.  The worker reassured her repeatedly that they do not beat children and therefore the parents should have no worries.

On the morning of August 2, Deng Fei rushed over to Nanning with his family after receiving the news of his son's death.  The formerly lively child now laid silently in a Nanning funeral parlor.  The blood-covered and bruise-covered Deng Senshan could not longer hear the loud cries of his parents.

On the afternoon of August 3, Deng Fei met with a reportter at a hotel on Mingxiu Road.  When he spoke about the accomplishments of his beloved son at home and school, he was filled with pride.  His wife sat on the side with a devastated look and tears on her face.  When she spoke, her voice was husky as if she had to squeeze the words out one at a time.  Other family members advised her to rest in another room.  As she got up, her weakened body was unsteady and she almost fell.  She had to hold on to the wall to walk.  Deng Fei's younger brother said that the two had not eaten for two days.

According to the medical record at the health clinic in Wuyu town, the patient was sent there at 3am on early morning August 2,.  He "had been vomiting and sweating profusely for three hours; his limbs were twitching; his eyes were turned upwards; his breathing was impeded."  The doctor took these measurements: 38.2 degrees body temperature; heartbeat not detected; body turning dark; iris dilated to 4.0 mm; no reaction to light; low breathing.  The health clinic deputy director who tried to save him said that the child was expired after more than 10 minutes of resuscitation.  "The child suffered too much."  This deputy director told Deng Fei who came to understand the situation.

On that evening, the reporter contacted instructor Wang whom Deng Fei knew.  Instructor Wang said over the telephone: "This is a sensitive case.  I cannot say anything without the approval of the leaders.  Please understand."  Then he hung up the telephone.  The reporter called the principal named Xia at the Nanning Set Sail Rescue Training Camp, but he was unable to get through.  According to information, the four persons involved in the case have been detained by the police.

At about 9am that evening, the Naning city Jiangnan police station criminal investigation squad captain named Yuan told the reporter that the case is under investigation and therefore it is inappropriate to discuss the details at this time.

On account of the publication of the above Nanguo Zaobao news report, the responsible editor Liu Yuan was dismissed from his post.  This was not the only news report as other newspapers also reported on this story.  The Southern Metropolis Weekly report was even more critical.  However, Nanguo Zaobao is the one that is based in Nanning city, where the incident took place.  Therefore, it was the target for retaliation by local Nanning officials.

Here is Liu Yuan's blog post of August 24, 2009.

One summer ten years ago, I left this newspaper.  Ten years later this summer, I left this newspaper once again.

At a meeting one hour ago, the formal document arrived.  It was read out.  I said a few words about my thoughts.  I said: "I came and left twice, so I am done with this newspaper.  But I am still very grateful to this newspaper.  Twice, it changed my life.  The first time eleven years ago, it allowed me to leave the the hydroelectricity station in the small town to come to the provincial capital to began my career in journalism.  The second time was two years when I returned from Beijing to my hometown.  I accept all the punishments without any complaints.  I accept all the responsibilities.  I sincerely send my best wishes to my colleagues.  They are now my ex-colleagues.  Please run this newspaper well, hold firm to the ideals and consciences of journalism but also pay attention to the risks."

I said, "With respect to this matter, I have not done anything against my conscience.  I am clean and broad-hearted."

I thank all my colleagues.

At this time, I have no rancor.  I only have thanks.  I am already middle-aged and therefore I should have this kind of magnanimity.  Besides, many things that other people consider important do not matter so much to me.  I believe that all things that have happened are what I should go through anyway, and it is pointless to be bitter.  Therefore, I have been very relaxed during this period.  When I was at Southern Metropolis Daily many years ago, four editors-in-chief lost their jobs.  So I am used to it.  All those who came out of the Southern newspaper group will feel the same way that I do.

Life is a travel trip.  It is a blessing to see different sceneries and meet different people.


For me, this is a very small matter.  I am sorry that I got everybody concerned.  It really doesn't matter.  In 2003, I was at Southern Metropolis Daily.  That building was the focal point of the world at the time.  Compared to that, this is just a small bobble of a wave.

My greatest reward was that I got your warmth during such a time.  Even though you know that I am not the kind of person who needs comforting, it was still comforting to receive the warmth.  This shows at least that I have not been too big a failure as a person.  Ha ha!

I have been calm, very calm.  This matter did not vex me too much ... last night, I suddenly realized that I don't have a hometown anymore ... When I thought about this, I was still sad.  I remembered what the Washington Post reporter Philip Pan wrote about <The newspaper man Cheng Yizhong>:

But Cheng had enough.  He stood up and said that he did not want to see his family.  He only wanted to go back to his prison cell.

He got into the police car to go back to the detention center.  Outside, it was getting dark and the neon lights were coming on gradually.  The car started.  It stopped in front of the red traffic light at the intersection.  Through the car window, he looked at the Southern Metropolis Daily headquarters building across the street.  He saw that his office on the ninth floor had its windows closed with no light on inside.  Then suddenly lights came on as the big red letters <Southern Metropolis Daily> were lit up at the top of the building.  Ever since he was detained, his workers tried hard and finally erected the <Southern Metropolis Daily> sign that he wanted to light up.

Cheng Yizhong began to sob.

But nobody saw it.

He realized that although he was still alive, this was farewell for eternity.

The traffic light turned green and the car continued its journey towards the detention center.


Perhaps it is my fate to take leave.  In our lives, we keep coming and going all the time.

(South China Morning Post)  Boot camp death story costs editor his post   By Ivan Zhai.   August 26, 2009.

A deputy editor of a Guangxi newspaper was dismissed by provincial propaganda authorities after the paper had published a series of stories about a teenage boy who was beaten to death at an internet addiction camp. Liu Yuan, the deputy editor of the Nanning -based Nanguo Morning Post and the chief editor of its website, was stood down on Monday and would be sacked soon, Guangxi and Guangdong journalists familiar with the issue confirmed yesterday.

Journalists said a series of stories published early this month by Nanning newspapers had angered top provincial officials because it exposed weaknesses in governance. One journalist, speaking anonymously because of the sensitivity of the issue, said a senior editor at Nanning's Modern Life Daily had also been suspended. The papers are part of the same group.

Several newspapers in Nanning revealed on August 4 that 15-year-old Deng Senshan had been beaten to death within 24 hours of his arrival at an internet addiction boot camp in Nanning.

Liu, 35, is an experienced journalist who formerly worked for The Southern Metropolis News, based in Guangzhou. He declined to comment yesterday. But the other journalist source said his punishment had been "a warning to the others".

In Guangxi, the journalist said, provincial propaganda authorities had not banned reporting on the Web addiction boot camp story, but after several days of stories, they had issued very clear instructions on how to cover it. Newspapers duly complied, but apparently that was not enough. The journalist said propaganda officials had probably received a severe reprimand from worried provincial leaders and then decided to make Liu the scapegoat. "In fact, the reports did not cause any trouble for authorities. But all media must follow [propaganda officials' instructions], and there are no exceptions," he said.

The boot-camp death was widely covered by big media organisations including Xinhua and the China Youth Daily even after reporting limits were imposed on Guangxi media on August 9. On August 11, Xinhua published a commentary criticising Guangxi officials for the tragedy and urging them to learn from it.

Ahead of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic on October 1, all levels of officials are on high alert for any incident that could lead to unrest.

The mysterious death of a chef at a hotel in Shishou , Hubei , in June sparked a demonstration by tens of thousands, who blocked police from seizing the body from the lobby of the hotel, which was frequented by pleasure-seeking officials.

(China Daily)  Editor sacked for report on death at Internet rehab camp.  By Lan Tian.  August 27, 2009.

Local officials in the region where a boy was beaten to death at an Internet addiction camp have taken swift action - and fired the editor who ran the story.

"As far as the story's coverage is concerned, I followed my conscience and did what I thought was right," Liu Yuan wrote in his blog at

Liu first broke the story about the beating death of 15-year-old Deng Senshan at a rehab camp in the local Nanguo Morning Post (NMP) on Aug 4, attracting nationwide media coverage. "I hope my former colleagues at NMP will continue their efforts to successfully run the newspaper, while trying to avoid risks," he wrote.

Deng was allegedly beaten to death by counselors at the Qihang Salvation Training Camp in Nanning, the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region on Aug 2.

"All Senshan's family members are very sad about the authorities' decision to fire the editor, while wondering if the reason behind it was that NMP reported the truth of my son's death openly and justly," said Deng Fei, the boy's father. "I don't think there was anything wrong with NMP's stories about my nephew's death," said Li Jian, the boy's uncle. Instead of sacking the editor, the local government should praise and encourage the newspaper to do more timely and accurate reports on citizens' interests, he said.

"Liu was sacked because he made mistakes when he was in charge of the coverage on the Net-addicted boy's death," an officer with NMP told China Daily on condition of anonymity.

The autonomous region's press authorities had not banned reporting on the boy's death, but had issued clear instructions on the coverage of the incident, said a journalist who refused to be named.

Regional leaders were not pleased because NMP's report harmed Guangxi's image, she said. With a daily circulation of about 400,000, NMP is a tabloid under the Guangxi Daily.

Liu, 35, is an experienced journalist who came to NMP last year. He formerly worked for in Beijing and Guangzhou-based Southern Metropolis News, said a journalist with Guangxi Daily. Another journalist with Guangxi Daily said an editor of Modern Life Daily newspaper, which is part of the same newspaper group, was also suspended.

Autonomous government officials did not make any comments on the issue.

"The media's supervision of government has met many difficulties because the government that oversees them still has many institutional problems," said Chi Fulin, a political advisor and president of the China Institute for Reform and Development. "There's still a long way to go to improve the government's disclosure of information and social supervision," he said.