March 13, 2019 

Location: Chengdu, Sichuan 

Participants: Hundreds 

In March 2019, hundreds of parents protested in Chengdu, Sichuan, over the provision of rotten food at the private Chengdu No. 7 Experimental High School. The protest was sparked when some parents discovered on March 12 that the school canteen was providing moldy food for the students.

On March 12, a number of parents had posted photos and video clips of the rotten food online, complaining complained that the school not only provided frozen meat and instant food, but also moldy and expired food to its students. They were dissatisfied with the poor hygiene in the canteen’s kitchen as well. Some parents even connected their children’s health problems such as prolonged diarrhea and hematochezia with the rotten food they ate. The parents were particularly discontented because the private school charges high tuition fees — 39,000 yuan a year. It has also been designated a model school in the province. They did not expect such low quality food.

On the following day, hundreds of parents marched along a main road in Chengdu and gathered outside the school gates and demanded an explanation from the school. Some of them even knelt down, hoping that the local Wenjiang district government would intervene and investigate the issue. The government, however, regarded the protest as interrupting normal social order and disrupting traffic. According to government reports, the police first warned the protestors, who responded with violence and swearing. The police then dispersed the protestors with brute force and pepper spray. Twelve people were arrested. They were released on the same day after showing repentance. Several days later, the schoolmaster of the high school was fired. Several responsible government officials in the Wenjiang district were put under investigation. The school apologized for providing the rotten food, and the Chengdu city government promised to launch a comprehensive investigation into school canteens throughout city.

However, on the same day as the protest, three parents were arrested for faking the photos. The government accused them of spraying turmeric powder and red fermented rice on the frozen food, and based the accusation on footage provided by closed-circuit cameras in the school.