Category Archives: courts

“Chatting with China’s security apparatus”

Melissa Chan from Al Jazeera is still one of the best things to happen to China journalism in a long time- in her most recent blog post she describes a run-in with state security while trying to interview Chinese lawyer Pu Zhiqiang:

Al Jazeera’s team decided to speak to rights attorney Pu Zhiqiang, known for his work representing Ai Weiwei and himself an object of frequent police surveillance, to solicit his opinion.

What happened next was not surprising, but on this day, felt particularly ironic: plainclothes police officers prevented us from interviewing Pu on camera, even as we explained to them that this new legislation would curtail their state security powers.

The language used by the officers, who refused to identify themselves, might also be interesting to those unfamiliar with this kind of state apparatus: Orwellian, wrapped in code, and offering our crew “recommendations” that if disobeyed, could have meant some physical confrontation from the two men in sunglasses who were called up for reinforcement during the following exchange.

This took place in the private office of rights attorney Pu Zhiqiang. The officers present were from China’s “guo bao” — its national security/secret police ministry. They had no legal basis to be there.

Despite no prerogative to do so, we offered to allow the officers to sit in on the interview. We even offered them to record the questions we wished to ask Mr. Pu. I felt that the questions were very straightforward.

Read the rest to see what they said. Pretty unbelievable.

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“Legalizing the Tools of Repression”

Nicholas Bequelin on the Criminal Procedure Law rewrite:

The more progressive-minded factions of the Communist Party and the government consider legal reforms to be integral to China’s modernization. They see enlightened self-interest in giving a greater role to the rule of law, and reforming the criminal code to offer due-process rights that resemble international norms is a key part of this effort.

The other camp is made up of the powerful security apparatus and the more conservative and hard-line elements in the party and the government. This faction has become increasingly powerful since it was assigned the leading role for the security of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

To this group, the law is purely instrumental — a tool of state power — and should not be altered to empower the citizenry and curtail the authority of the party. The hard-liners believe it is critical to allow security services to deal expediently with threats to the broadest possible interpretation of national security and public order, even if that means frequent miscarriages of justice.

Article 73 would allow the police to secretly detain citizens for up to six months on suspicion of “endangering state security” or “terrorism” — two vague charges that have long been manipulated by the government to crack down on dissidents, human-rights lawyers, civil-society activists and Tibetan and Uighur separatists.

Even more chilling, these secret detentions would be carried out in venues controlled by the police outside of regular detention facilities, greatly increasing the likelihood of ill-treatment. Gao Zhisheng, for example, was tortured while in such detention.

Why is China’s leadership considering giving more powers to the security services, when it means bringing into disrepute what otherwise could have be an important legal reform?

One reason is that on any given day, 200 to 300 protests take place across China. The scale of the protests varies from less than a dozen people to tens of thousands. The protests are fueled by a host of labor, environmental and livelihood issues, compounded by corruption and abuses of power, primarily among local officials. Unable to take their grievances to the courts, a growing number of people are taking them to the streets. Often, only the police stand between “the masses” and the party.

Second, the leadership is increasingly concerned that it is losing the battle against the spread of “global values” among the citizenry — code in China for human rights, the rule of law and freedom of expression. Hard-liners believe they need the power to take dissidents and critics “off the grid,” both to silence them and to make an example of them to others. Legalizing “disappearances” provides just the tool.

The rise of the national security faction is one of the most foreboding trends in China. Whether Article 73 is adopted or not will signal a great deal about whether China is making progress toward the rule of law or solidifying the supremacy of the security state.

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Filed under courts, enforced disappearance, human rights, law

“Monk Charged After Repeated Detentions”

The repression machine is still on a roll, even outside of the conflicted Ngaba area- via RFA we learn that Labrang Jigme, the man interviewed in this video:

… has been been charged with ‘splittist activities’ and may be sentenced soon:

Jigme Gyatso , a monk at the Labrang monastery in the Kanlho (in Chinese, Gannan) prefecture of China’s Gansu province, was most recently picked up by Chinese police on Aug. 20, 2011, his brother reported at the time.

“Since then, he has been held without any word concerning his fate,” a Tibetan source close to the family told RFA, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“At the beginning of February, his brother Sonam Tsering received a notice dated Jan. 2 from the Kanlho Public Security Bureau [PSB] informing him that Jigme Gyatso had been formally charged with ‘splittist activities,’” the source said.

Meanwhile, a Tibetan traffic policeman from Machu county, also in Kanlho, was handed a four-and-a-half-year jail term for “rebelling” against the Chinese government during regionwide protests in 2008, a Tibetan living in exile said, citing contacts in the region.

“His name is Sherab, and he is from the [district of] Dzoge,” the source said.

“He had been a monk for a while, but later joined the Chinese police force, where he served for four years.”

When Tibetans in Machu rose against Chinese rule in 2008, Sherab “went to the Tibetan side and attacked the Chinese police,” the source said.

“He was detained sometime in May or June of 2008, and since then nothing was heard about him for a while.”

Although the news in China won’t report any of this, locals will definitely be following these developments. This is the kind of thing that destabilizes regions, Beijing…

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Filed under courts, enforced disappearance, ethnic conflict, prison, protests, Tibet, torture

“China Set to Punish Another Human Rights Activist”

I’m sure this will go over even better than the house arrest of a blind lawyer and his daughter:

First the police crippled Ni Yulan’s legs. Then the authorities took away her license to practice law. Later, while she was serving time in jail, demolition crews tore down the courtyard house that had been in her family for two generations.

Freed from prison in 2010 but unable to walk, she ended up living in a Beijing park with her husband for nearly two months, until unflattering publicity led local officials to move them into a cheap hotel.

Their predicament will most likely take a turn for the worse in the coming weeks, when a court in the capital’s Xicheng district is expected to sentence the couple on charges that include “picking quarrels” and disturbing public order. “I’m afraid the sentence this time will be especially heavy,” their lawyer, Cheng Hai, said after their hearing on Thursday.

The case of Ms. Ni and Mr. Dong highlights the ways officials can leverage the legal system against those they deem to be nuisances. Ms. Ni, 51, who received a law degree from China University of Political Science and Law, drew the attention of the authorities in 2002, when she used her expertise to help neighbors in Xicheng fighting eviction, part of the government’s sweeping effort to remake the capital ahead of the Olympics.

Detained after she tried to photograph demolition crews, she said she was kicked and pummeled over the course of 15 hours, leaving her incontinent and unable to walk. She was released after 75 days but continued her legal work while also seeking redress for the beating. Over the next few years, she was arrested twice more and convicted of “obstructing public business.”

During her three years in prison, she said, she endured frequent indignities: An officer once urinated on her face, she said, and prison officials often took away her crutches, forcing her to crawl from her cell to the prison workshop. One of her tasks included cleaning toilets.

Her daughter, too, said she was subjected to government surveillance. “The police followed me to school and watched me all day so I would experience the fear,” said the daughter, Dong Xuan, now 27.

During their trial last week, Ms. Ni, thin and weak, was propped up on a makeshift bed, an oxygen mask tethered to her face. Outside, a heavy police presence prevented family members, supporters and foreign diplomats from entering the courtroom. Their lawyer, Mr. Cheng, claims the proceedings were illegal because 9 of his 10 witnesses were barred from testifying.

Reached by phone, a spokesman for the Xicheng District People’s Court declined to answer questions about the case.

Cases like this are part of what convinces me that the Communist Party isn’t anywhere near as strong as it looks, in the long term. Does a secure Party need to go to such lengths to attack a women whose crime is lawyering and who needs an oxygen mask to survive?

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“Little Yueyue and China’s moral road”

Where to even start with this one… a few years ago, a man in Nanjing helped a senior citizen who had fallen over. He was then taken to court and blamed for her injuries, with the judge ruling that he must have been responsible, because why else would he help her out? This is one of those times where having a ludicrously terrible judicial system which only exists to serve the powerful and moneyed and can’t actually function in any other capacity comes back to bite you. Since then a slight nervousness about helping others has turned into an outright phobia- Chinese friends and students have told me on multiple occasions that I shouldn’t ever help anyone in distress, because I’ll end up taken to court and the Nanjing ruling will happen again.

It seems to have reached a head with the case of Yueyue, a child struck by a car who was then ignored by passersby, much to the outrage of the general public. A piece from Asia Times:

“What has happened to our morality?” “Where are our hearts of sympathy?” “How come we could ever become even more cruel and hard-hearted than cold-blooded animals?” These were questions being asked by outraged Chinese media and bloggers over a recent incident hit-and-run incident which saw bystanders indifferently walk past a toddler who was struck by a van, only for the child to be hit by a second vehicle.

The incident happened on October 13 in Foshan city in southern Guangdong, the richest province in China, and was captured by a surveillance camera. The footage was aired by the province’s Southern Television Guangdong (TVS) and posted last Saturday on the Chinese video site Youku, drawing around 2 million views and thousands of comments on that site alone.

The footage shows a two-and-a-half-year-old girl hit and run over by a large white van while walking down a street in a market district of Foshan. About six minutes later, another passing van runs her over again. During the interval, at least 18 people walk by without helping her. Finally last an elderly trash collector comes to her aid, moving her to a side of the street and calling her mother.

The apathy of the bystanders and people in the neighborhood has shocked the public, with media commentators and netizens seething over an incident that raises questions about the morality and conscience of today’s China.

“[Ancient Chinese thinker] Mencius said, ‘The heart of sympathy is essential to man.’ What has made us so apathetic?… Lack of sympathy is a moral disaster facing us all … Let us all ask ourselves if we had passed by the scene, how many of us would have stopped to help the girl?” wrote a commentary on Chongqing Times.

It went on to blame the system for a lack of mechanisms that support good deeds. “Our current system is obviously in an embarrassing status: corruption continues to run wild and evil people enjoy privileges, scandals with charity organizations such as the Red Cross stop people from donating to help the needy. [3] All this certainly shakes up the beliefs of kind-hearted people.”

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“Separation of Powers? The dragon doesn’t believe it exists.”

Great post from ChinaRealPolitik about separation of power in Beijing:

I think a fair proportion of senior CCP members don’t believe it truly exists. Anywhere. When foreign governments talk about the rule of law and independent institutions, I rather suspect many Chinese officials believe this is a ploy to lecture China, as they actually can’t comprehend of a system where those ‘in charge’ can’t make decisions in areas outside their sphere of influence.

Norway is taking China to the WTO over claims that China is imposing import controls on Norwegian salmon, in retaliation for the Nobel Committee’s awarding of the Prize to Liu Xiaobo.

Here’s the thing – it was an independent committee. The Norwegian government had no say over who the Peace Prize committee chose. Yet, the Chinese government remains determined to punish Norway. There are a number of possible reasons, all of which may be true to certain degrees. There are probably Chinese officials who genuinely think that the Norwegian government was somehow complicit in the decision. Some think that pressuring the government will result in the government pressuring the committee (smarter, but still underestimates the resilience of the separation of powers, which tends to be pretty strong in Scandinavia). There are also some who are angry and want to punish Norway whatever way they can, and as always, a significant number who are doing it to demonstrate their nationalist credentials.

This is far from an isolated case. Remember Lai Changxing? He was a Chinese criminal kingpin who went into hiding in Canada. The Chinese government wanted him back and seemed to genuinely think that the Canadian Government had the power to wrest him from the courts and hand him over. Citing comments from Canadian officials, Sinocism quotes a book which said:

“‘They never, never, never got it that we could not force the outcome, right up to Zhu Rongji and the highest levels. It was beyond their comprehension. They just did not believe that we cannot tell our courts what to do.”

It brings to mind a discussion I had with a Chinese friend of mine. It was around the time Obama’s ratings were starting to take a hammering, and I mentioned that there were probably a few news commentators on the Fox network who would be gleefully preparing reports on that. My friend asked quite honestly why Obama didn’t just close down Fox news. I wasn’t quite sure where to begin answering that, but in fairness, she wasn’t somebody who follows the news closely – but I think she does represent a fair sampling of how many ordinary members of the Chinese public think governments – all governments – operate.

Rule of law and separation of powers are the two things that would completely turn China around, even if they kept a one-party system. It’s pretty much my refrain here, but without these concepts I think China is in for a rough decade or two.

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“Lawyers Express Criticism of Criminal Procedure Law Revision Draft”

Siweiluozi has written up a fairly detailed summary of the Criminal Procedure Law rewrite. For specifics go to his site- here I’ll just quote his conclusion:

Looking at the CPL draft overall, the public security system has turned the tables on their attackers and scored a big victory. The procuratorate has held their ground, particularly since some of extremely unreasonable provisions haven’t been eliminated — so they’ve held steady. As for the courts, well when it’s come to this point, anything’s okay with them. But lawyers? What happened to the lawyers?

Not a good sign for the future of trials and courts here.

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“77-year-old female kneels down, naked, in front of courthouse to protest land grab”

Well, that’s one way to do it (via Ministry of Tofu):

On August 18, Zhuang Jinghui, a 77-year-old woman went naked on her knees in order to call Shanghai’s justice system to account for their ineptitude. She wore nothing but a sign in black and white that says, “I want my case to be investigated. Champion the laws. Return the right to sue to me.” Despite repeated clamors for justice from her and her fellow petitioners standing outside the courthouse, no one stood out to answer her needs on the court’s behalf.

Ms. Zhuang ran a private clinic until it was forcibly demolished. In 2002, she was tricked by the Center for Land Reserve in Shanghai’s Pudong District into signing a carte blanche and ended up getting no compensation at all. In 2004, Ms. Zhuang’s elder sister was seized with a fit of anger over a judge’s insensitive words when the court was intermediating the land dispute, and died soon.

In 2006, Ms. Zhuang went to Beijing several times to protest the unilateral land seizure. To appease her anger, Pudong’s district court ruled, rather reluctantly, that “The case is closed for further appeal or implementation,” leading her to believe that the property would be safe from forced demolition.

Nevertheless, in 2008, Pudong’s Center for Land Reserve disregarded the court rule and tore down the house. As all her multiple petitions were brushed aside, Zhuang had to protest in the nude at the gate of the district government building, before she was finally relocated into a unit. However, the unit has no water, electricity or gas. Nor does its land ownership belong to Zhuang. She could not run her clinic.

At 11 a.m., Zhuang went to the district courthouse to demand her case be heard. Being received by no one, she began to take off her clothes one by one. After she became naked, she and a dozen other petitioners were locked up in a meeting room. Zhuang climbed out through the window and had knelt down in front of the courthouse for about half an hour before finally a few female judges came out, wrapped her in a comforter and carried her into the meeting room.

Perhaps they’ll actually review her case, if only to get her to stop doing that?

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“China charges 3 with murder in self-immolation death of Tibetan Buddhist monk”

The Washington Post reports the following, which would be funny if it weren’t so depressing:

Authorities in southwestern China will charge three Buddhist monks with murder over the death of a monk who set himself on fire in an alleged protest against Chinese government policies, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Friday.

Two of the monks, Tsering Tenzin and Tenchum, are accused of plotting, instigating, and assisting in the March 16 self-immolation of 16-year-old Rigzin Phuntsog.

A third, Drongdru, is accused of moving and hiding the injured monk, preventing him from receiving emergency treatment for 11 hours and eventually leading to his death, Xinhua said in a brief report Friday.

The circumstances surrounding the monk’s death remain murky, and in June, China rejected pressure from a U.N. human rights panel to provide information about more than 300 of Kirti’s monks whose whereabouts it said are unknown since the monastery was raided in April.

It’s a classic Beijing solution: instead of addressing why a man would burn himself alive, start trying his friends with murder! Obviously the message is aimed at future would-be self immolaters- “if you kill yourself symbolically, we’ll arbitrarily kill a few of your friends.”

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“Chinese internet activist Wang Lihong goes on trial”

Apparently fellow activists are kicking up a fuss:

Protesters gathered outside a Beijing court on Friday as a Chinese internet activist went on trial in a case the demonstrators see as a warning shot to other rights campaigners.

Wang Lihong faces up to five years in prison for “creating a disturbance”. She was detained in March amid a sweeping crackdown on the rights movement, apparently triggered by government fears of protests inspired by the Arab spring.

The leading Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who was himself held for 81 days, tweeted this week: “If you don’t speak for Wang Lihong, and don’t speak for Ran Yunfei [a detained blogger released the next day], you are not only a person who will not stand up for fairness and justice; you do not have self-respect.”

Qi said Wang became involved in activism three years ago after reading about Yang Jia, who was executed for killing six Shanghai police officers in retaliation for alleged police brutality.

She also highlighted the case of Deng Yujiao, a waitress who stabbed to death an official who had demanded sex.

Wang also celebrated when the jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo won the Nobel peace prize last year, telling the Associated Press: “I think the most important thing is that every person learns how to be their own citizen, and not become someone else’s subordinate.”

No date has been set for Wang’s next court appearance. Guilty verdicts are a near certainty in such cases, although occasionally courts have quietly released defendants on bail.

Outside the court, security officials tried to drag away Zhao Lianhai, who was jailed for campaigning over a tainted milk scandal after his baby became ill, but stopped when others intervened.

“After I was put in jail, sister Wang cared about me and went to visit my wife and children … without her, I wouldn’t have freedom today,” Zhao said. “Maybe we can’t change anything by coming here, but we want to express our beliefs.”

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“First They Came for the Lawyers”

Jerome Cohen has a new article in Foreign Policy talking about Beijing’s war on lawyers. The entire thing is, as always with Cohen, worth a read. His conclusion:

The Chinese have thus become more aware of their rights and the possibility that courts might enforce them, whether as plaintiffs seeking civil and administrative remedies or as defendants in criminal prosecutions. Their system allows few other outlets for preventing arbitrary punishments and resolving the rising number of grievances. Democratic political institutions remain little more than a gleam in the eye of reformers. The media are under strict surveillance and are generally of limited use. Petitions to government agencies are a frustrating farce and have now become dangerous because of the establishment of “black jails” — extralegal detention facilities to prevent petitioners from disturbing the “harmony” that the party incessantly preaches. Mass street protests, though sometimes successful, usually result in harsh punishment of their organizers and cannot settle individual disputes. In any event, criminal prosecutions, a standard party response to social unrest, cannot be avoided.

Yet involvement in the courts, at best an uphill battle in sensitive cases, requires legal assistance. This is the price of China’s newly acquired legislative and procedural sophistication. Without skilled defense lawyers, few democratic activists, religious adherents, or alleged gangsters can possibly refute official accusations. Without skilled plaintiffs’ lawyers, no victims of tainted milk, shoddy school construction, illegal housing demolition, or environmental destruction can hope for judicial relief. Nor can the public even be informed of unjust judicial decisions if lawyers are intimidated from participating in such cases or informing the media about them.

This is the logic underlying the current campaign against “rights lawyers,” criminal defense lawyers, and public-interest lawyers. Party leaders want the best of both worlds. They crave the reinforced status that comes from the legitimacy that a rule of law confers on governments at home and abroad. But they also want to avoid the embarrassment and loss of dictatorial control that might occur if lawyers were permitted to challenge their power, even if only before courts that remain under the party’s thumb. So their response is to mobilize all the instruments at their command — informal and formal, legal and extralegal — to intimidate lawyers from taking positions not endorsed by the party.

Some Chinese legal professionals, including judges and other officials, sympathize with the plight of the persecuted lawyers, and a few law professors and lawyers have occasionally shown their opposition. Fear, however, is corrosive, and indifference is safe. Thus, prospects for a serious pushback are dim.

In a world where the “people’s democratic dictatorship” is losing its struggle against transparency, this attack on lawyers provides further evidence that China’s “socialist rule of law,” imported from the Soviet Union, is an oxymoron. No matter how many Confucius Institutes the Chinese government finances on foreign campuses, it will never attain the “soft power” it craves until it stops persecuting lawyers and starts recognizing the prerequisites of a genuine rule of law.

Expect that conflict- between a Chinese public that is increasingly aware of its rights, and a government that is loathe to actual deliver on them- to figure prominently in the years to come.

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“Wealth to Power”

Caixin, a magazine which has constantly pushed the envelope in China, has a blog post by Ding Jinkun about a rape case in Guizhou which has been getting noticed lately. The daughter of Tian Wanchang, former vice-mayor of Liupanshui City, has accused a man of raping her two years ago. The accused isn’t just your average Zhou, though, he’s actually a very wealth Mr. Zhou who just happens to have a seat on the provincial Communist Party standing council. It looks like Mr. Zhou has used his connections to stymie all attempts at investigations. As Ding says:

A case like this cuts to the core of Chinese society, and the picture it paints is not flattering. It is a picture of jungle warfare, of a primitive world where power, force, is the only law. It is only because, in this case, the two sides happen to be more evenly matched – officialdom versus wealth – that anyone even knows that this case exists. Imagine a similar case involving the wealthy on one side and an ordinary citizen on the other – is there even any doubt that the case would never see the light of day? The injustice would certainly remain buried forever, regardless of the truth or the severity of the crime.

In this case, we have in Mr. Tian an official once in charge of maintaining social stability who, over the course of his career, doubtlessly clamped down on many who had been labeled disturbers of the peace. And now, following a bitter turn of events, he himself has been labeled one of those “unstable factors” threatening the very society he worked for years to maintain order in. More ironic still, despite his years of service to the state he is now unable to seek legal recourse for his own daughter. How is a father, how is anyone, expected to stomach a travesty of this magnitude?

Local business tycoons are in cahoots with the local authorities to a stupefying degree. The moneyed class is in fact so ingratiated with local government that the wealthy have become the de factor political rulers. What has emerged is a despotism where citizens are sacrificed on the altar of the powerful, where legal rulings are constantly harming the people they are meant to help. Citizens looking to protect their rights will simply never win versus officials or versus the rich. Their only choice is to perish together, pitiable and powerless.

What we rightly expect is a society under the rule of law and not the rule of man. In this society all officials and citizens are treated fairly and equally. Everyone is punished and protected alike under the same written system of law. A society under the rule of man, ever pitting strength against strength without the equalizing hand of an unbiased court system, will lead to injustice piled upon injustice, revenge begetting revenge. Such a society can never be fair and will never be free.

Maybe I should throw out the entire tag system and replace them all with ‘rule of law.’ Demands for legal protection and the delivery of rights guaranteed by the Chinese Constitution are what we hear over and over again from migrant workers in Guangdong and farmers in central China and yak herders in Tibet and journalists in Shanghai and shop owners in Xinjiang and now, when his number didn’t come up, a former vice-mayor in Guizhou. If anyone can make the system work for him, it should have been Mr. Zhou. If he can’t, how is anyone else supposed to? And if no one can, how is China supposed to work in the long run?

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“China’s Jasmine Crackdown and the Legal System”

After revolutions started to tear decades-old dictatorships out of place in the Middle East, people in Beijing got nervous.  Their response was to start disappearing lawyers, activists, and dissidents at a rate which shocks even the most cynical China watcher.  Donald C. Clarke, a professor specializing in Chinese law at George Washington University, writes this essay on the crackdown, concluding that:

In China, the difference between detention according to law and detention not according to law is one of policy and convenience. If activists are ‘disappeared’, it is not because some fragile and immature rule of law has broken down in the face of overwhelming political pressures. It is because the authorities have decided that the message sent by disappearing someone is preferable to the message sent by detaining them in accordance with legal procedures, or because the detention was considered too urgent to allow time for proper procedures.

The Jasmine Crackdown less reveals than reconfirms that China’s legal system is intended to serve the purposes of the state. It can do so in ways that are more or less effective, and that produce more or less justice for individuals as a byproduct. It can develop, change and be judged by various yardsticks to be better or worse. But there was never any genuine governmental commitment to the rule of law from which the government later backtracked. China’s legal system is not developing toward a system that will restrain political power when it counts.

Exactly right.

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“Unable to stop land grab, Chinese farmer set self afire”

Anyone looking to understand why Jiangxi Bomber Qian Mingqi took such an extreme course of action should read this article from McClatchy, revealing exactly what you’re up against when your property is demolished here:

The central government and the ruling Communist Party gave notice in March that rural officials should follow the “spirit” of regulations issued in January for urban property that require due process and fair payment for forced demolitions. The measure also specifically forbade the use of violence or coercion.

None of which helped Wang Jiazheng as he stood on his roof at about 8:30 a.m. April 22.

Wang had discovered that his village leader, a man named Guo Jianguang, had secretly signed over the community’s land and also allegedly waived the right to public hearings.

Asked by phone whether he had, in fact, agreed to hand over village land without talking with others, Guo replied, “Yes, that is true,” and then said in a loud voice that he didn’t have time to talk and hung up.

The government planned to compensate Wang for about 3,000 square feet of housing. The 350,000 yuan payment, worth roughly $53,800, was more than enough to pay for the 2,600-square foot apartment the government wanted Wang to move into. Wang would have been left with 210,000 yuan, some $32,300, a significant sum in rural China, where the annual net income is about $1,000.

But from Wang’s perspective, he’d been cheated. His family’s two homes covered nearly 6,500 square feet, so he was ending up with less than half the compensation he thought he deserved and getting stuck with a smaller home.

Added to that, the development had scooped up all the farmland he’d tended. He worried that neither he nor his family would have a way to make a living in the future.

Wang complained first to local officials, then went to Beijing in 2009 to petition for an investigation of the case, all to no avail.

This is something that even apolitical Chinese are aware of, and are none too happy about.  The primary purpose of courts here is to shield the Party from legal challenges, so…  I guess the system works?

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