Woman attacked with hot soup in a hotpot restaurant in China after asking man to stop smoking inside

A woman in China has been assaulted in a hotpot restaurant by a man who threw hot soup at her and her friends after she requested he stop smoking inside.

The woman, surnamed Xiao, uploaded a video on social media platform Weibo showing the incident between her and a man sitting at the table next to her at a hotpot restaurant in the city of Chengdu on Monday evening. The video has been viewed more than 170 million times.

The incident occurred at Weizhi Juemei Frog and Fish Head Hotpot after Xiao, who was dining with her friends, asked the man not to smoke because she has lung problems.

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“Why can’t I smoke in the restaurant? It’s none of your business,” the man shouted back at Xiao.

Seeing Xiao was filming the incident with her mobile phone, he threatened to smash her device.

“How much money have you spent in this restaurant? Are you entitled to require me not to smoke? Who gave you this power?” the man said in the video.

He cursed a male friend of Xiao eating together with her. “You don’t smoke, [therefore] you are not a man,” he said.

When he heard several other customers in the restaurant support him by saying “we Sichuan people all do it (smoke) like this (in restaurants)”, the man asked, “is that a problem?”

He then threw a cup of “unidentified liquid” onto Xiao and four of her friends. The restaurant later confirmed the liquid was hotpot soup, the Chutian Metropolis News reported.

Xiao then called the police who arrived at the restaurant and took those involved away.

According to Xiao’s post on WeChat on Wednesday, under police mediation, the man apologised to her and compensated Xiao and her friends a total of 1,000 yuan (US$152) for dry cleaning costs.

Xiao, a women’s rights worker, said she actually didn’t need an apology from the man but hoped to raise public awareness to the issue of secondhand smoke indoors.

“Many old people, kids, people like me with lung illnesses, and even healthy people, don’t want to inhale the second-hand smoke,” she told the newspaper. “Not smoking in public places is a basic respect for others.”

The restaurant manager, surnamed Chen, said they at first didn’t notice the row as they were busy that evening.

“It happens frequently that customers smoke here,” she was quoted as saying. “Previously when a customer complained about the smoking from another customer, we would try to persuade. But if the smoker refused to listen to us, we would let the customer who lodged the complaint to change to another table.”

The restaurant’s parent company fined it 50,000 yuan (US$7630) following the incident. The company said it would revoke the restaurant’s franchise if a similar case happens again.

The Chinese Association on Tobacco Control, a government-backed NGO, praised Xiao for her efforts.

“The second-hand smoke contains at least 69 kinds of carcinogen. Hats off to every person who initiatively stands up to persuade others not to smoke,” the organisation said on Weibo yesterday.

“The only effective way to protect the public from second-hand smoke is to issue laws to ban smoking in indoor public venues, workplaces and public transportation vehicles,” said the association.

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