By Andrew Galbraith
SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Surveillance footage of men assaulting women at a restaurant in the northeastern city of Tangshan has unleashed a flood of outrage on Chinese social media, prompting state media calls for punishment and renewing a debate over the treatment of women.
The graphic video, which has gone viral on China's Weibo social media platform, shows a man approaching a table at a barbecue restaurant and touching a woman around 2:40 a.m. local time on Friday, then striking her after she pushes him away.
In the ensuing brawl, a group of men are seeing brutally attacking the woman and her dining partners. Local police said two women had sustained non-life-threatening injuries and were being treated in hospital.
All nine suspects involved in the case had been arrested as of Saturday afternoon and an investigation is under way, the local Public Security Bureau said in a Weibo post.
Discussion of the assault dominated Chinese social media on Saturday, taking up the top six places of Weibo's most-discussed topics. In a brief online commentary, state television called for the suspects to be severely punished.
But following other recent high-profile cases of the mistreatment of women, a widely shared WeChat post on Saturday took issue with the initial official framing of the assault as a simple act of violence.
"This happened in a society where violence against women is rampant ... . To ignore and suppress the perspective of gender is to deny the violence that people -- as women -- suffer," the anonymous post said.
China Women's News, published by the All-China Women's Federation, said in a commentary on Saturday that "there can only, and must only, be zero tolerance for such vicious cases of serious violations of women's rights and interests."
In February, the plight of a woman in Feng county, in the eastern province of Jiangsu, sparked a public outcry after she appeared chained by the neck in a video on social media that went viral.
(Reporting by Andrew Galbraith; Editing by Kim Coghill)