The fatal stabbing that followed a traffic accident on Monday in Jiangsu Province has been ruled an act of self-defense, according to a statement issued by local police on Saturday.
Police in Kunshan said that according to criminal law in China, "People who take defensive action against an ongoing act of murder, homicide, robbery, rape, kidnapping, and another violent crime that seriously endangers their personal safety, and that results in the injury or death of the assailant, shall not bear criminal responsibility."
The deceased, a man named Liu, drove his car into the bicycle lane on the side of the road, knocking over a cyclist named Yu. Liu started a fight with the cyclist that escalated when he went back to his car and armed himself with a knife. Liu threatened Yu with the knife, but in the fight that followed he dropped the knife onto the ground where it was picked up by Yu. Yu stabbed Liu several times, including as Liu retreated to his car. Liu collapsed and died from his injuries. Yu remained at the scene of the incident until police arrived, and he was arrested.
Kunshan police found that Liu was responsible for starting the fight, and for threatening Yu's life. Because of this, Yu's action has been considered defensive and he will not be charged with a crime. The local procuratorate affirmed the police's decision not to prosecute Yu.
This case has generated a lot of public debate as to whether Yu should be held criminally liable for Liu's death. Several lawyers have commented publicly that in their view it was justifiable for Yu to fight Liu off, but that continuing to attack him when he returned to his car was going beyond self-defense, and that he opened himself up to charges of causing intentional injury. This argument has been countered by the suggestion that Yu still had reason to fear for his safety, and that Liu could have been returning to his car to retrieve another knife.