Beijing [China], March 19 (ANI): Nine students, including six Americans, who attended New York University in Shanghai, were detained by Chinese police in two separate incidents on the same night last week, The Washington Post reported citing university personnel and US officials.
Two of the US students were apprehended at a bar, according to a student and university faculty.
One of them, a young man, was kicked in the head by authorities and the other -- a woman -- sustained bruises as police in plainclothes attempted to apprehend her, the student said.
In another incident, seven students -- including citizens of the United States, Finland, Morocco and Malaysia -- were taken into custody from a house where they had gathered for a birthday party, said students and university personnel.
The students tested negative for drug use and were released between 11 and 16 hours later, they added.
According to The Washington Post, it is unclear whether the students were arrested as part of China's increasingly aggressive anti-drug enforcement policies or targeted for political reasons amid worsening relations with the United States.
When asked about the arrests, a State Department spokesman said that "the Chinese legal system can be opaque and enforcement of local laws arbitrary" and that the country's judiciary "does not enjoy independence from political influence".
"We are aware of the detention and subsequent release of a group of US citizens in Shanghai, China. We stand ready to provide all appropriate consular services," the spokesman said.
The university said it does not know why Chinese authorities detained everyone at the birthday party. "We believe that the police were focused on a particular individual," a spokeswoman for the university, June Shih, said.
Shih said the university thinks the students at the bar were "detained as part of a roundup related" to alleged drug activity.
"The students stated that they were confronted by a person in plain clothes; not understanding that this person was a police officer, the students evidently attempted to depart the scene, and have since reported that they sustained some injuries as police sought to detain them," Shih said.
One of the students said the police used unnecessary force and created confusion and fear by appearing without a badge or uniform.
"The guy was literally bleeding from his head from getting kicked by the police. They had no translator so they had no idea what was going on," said the student, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the interaction with law enforcement.
"The girl was beaten up for running away from two plainclothes cops with no badge. The guy who got kicked in the face was just trying to call NYU Shanghai public safety," the student added. (ANI)