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Video Of Chinese Bank Employees Being Spanked Prompts Suspensions

The president of a regional bank in China has been suspended after a video was circulated in which an official at a special training session went down a row of eight employees to deliver a hard spanking as punishment for poor performance. A second executive has also reportedly been suspended.

In theory, the incident might sound like a parody of a corporate motivational session. But as the video shows, the reality was severe: a man wielding a section of wood repeatedly went up and down a row of male and female bank employees, striking them across their backsides for "not exceeding themselves," as China's People's Daily wrote in its translation.

As the South China Morning Post reports, many people have "criticized the bank executives for the brutal punishment, which they said had violated the rights of employees."

The punishment was carried out on an auditorium stage Saturday, in full view of around 200 fellow employees of the Rural Commercial Bank in Shanxi province. A video that seems to have been recorded by an audience member soon went viral, depicting the trainer making at least four trips up and down the row of employees and drawing clearly pained reactions from the participants.

People's Daily provides these details about the bank's explanation:

"The announcement made by the Shanxi Rural Credit Cooperatives said that this was a 'Breakthrough in Performance' training session for their employees. The trainers were hired from 'Hongfeng Leadership Academy' in Shanghai. One of the trainers graded their performance on June 18, and punished those who ranked bottom by spanking and cutting hair.

"The bank said it has stopped the training session, asked the Leadership Academy and its trainer to openly apologize, and suspended several managing personnels from the branch. Economic compensation is in discussion for the spanked employees, said the announcement."

According to the South China Morning Post, the man identified as the wood-wielding trainer has apologized for his actions.

Citing the Beijing Times, the Morning Post adds that the trainer, Jiang Yang, explained that he sees spanking as "one of the most effective ways to raise consciousness" — and that he acknowledges that not everyone would agree.

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.