April 13, 2007
Horizontal folk dancing in Beijing

There's one golden rule in life: don't get caught:

A FORMER senior discipline inspection official in Hunan Province has been expelled from the Communist Party of China after being caught with a prostitute, one of many officials brought down in a campaign against corruption carried out across the central province. Du Xiangcheng, formerly deputy Party secretary of the provincial discipline inspection commission, was found to have made a sexual trade with a prostitute from Belarus at a five-star hotel room in Beijing in December 2005 while on a business trip, the China News Service said yesterday, citing Hunan's discipline watchdog.

Du was caught red-handed when police broke into the room after receiving a tipoff, an earlier media report said...Du made a reputation for himself for his stance against corruption and led the probe against Peng Jinyong, former secretary of the Changde City Committee for Discipline Inspection, in Hunan. Peng was alleged to have acquired more than 770,000 yuan (US$99,670) through corruption in 2004. Du was then quoted as saying, "Cadres are only human and they have desires, so we should all be tested."

Are there people staking out Beijing's 5 star hotels to catch cadres out? Are people like Mr Du really that stupid as to think they can bring a hooker (and all the articles note she is Belarussian, implying I'm not sure what) to their room in a fancy Beijing hotel without being noticed?

show comments right here »

[boomerang] Posted by Simon at 09:17
Permalink | Speak Up (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 02, 2006
China rural land reform

Geoff Koch from MSU emails with an interesting article discussing the difference between China's rural land reform policy and its reality. Well worth a read.

show comments right here »

[boomerang] Posted by Simon at 08:06
Permalink | Speak Up (1) | TrackBack (1)

» yahoo backgammon cheat links with: yahoo backgammon cheat

March 29, 2006
Lowu cops

Move over Hill St Blues. A couple of reports demonstrating how Shenzhen's Public Security Bureau deal with immigration issues promptly and efficiently. These are posted on the Shenzhen PSB website and both involve the Lowu station.

1. The first story is about a 30 year old from Mali (Doucoure Abdoulaye). The PSB report says he came to the Lowu police station on 9 February to deal with his visa, which had expired. He came to counter 205 - Comrade Huang Fengzhu. When Huang input the man's name into the computer system he was found to be an AIDS patient. Huang immediately reported to Comrade Ding Minghua who, upon understanding the situation, told Huang not to act as though anything was out of the ordinary. With a calm demeanour, Huang dealt with the issue. This shows, according to the report, that the police can deal with a foreigner with an infectious disease in a calm and brave manner [as though the officer involved could have caught AIDS in this situation]. They still deported the guy, though the report doesn't say to where (I presume Hong Kong). Along with his name, age, and country of origin, they also felt the need to tell us his skin colour.

2. The second story is about a 76-year-old disabled American (Sommer Herman Benjamin), who visited the Shenzhen police station for help (15 February, again the Lowu station). The man was wheelchair bound, and the report says he seemed to be suffering from mild dementia. He told police he had been cheated by both a Chinese English language centre for which worked and which had not paid him and his intended Chinese fiancee who he had come to marry. As a result did not have enough money. The police told him that in this case he had to leave China before his visa expired. They gave him the contact details of the American embassy and explained that they could offer him water, food and enough money to contact the American embassy. He left Shenzhen the next day for Qingdao. The report has been published to indicate how well they dealt with an issue involving a foreigner (i.e., he left the city and thus didn't cause them any more problems).

Will the Lowu station soon become a tourist attraction in its own right?

show comments right here »

[boomerang] Posted by Simon at 18:04
Permalink | Speak Up (1) | TrackBack (0)

March 07, 2006
A bittersweet appreciation for Chinese Law

I've been spending a lot of time trying to gather my thoughts in order to compose a series of entires reflecting on the 15 months I spent living in various parts of China and just when I thought it impossible to find something positive to say about Chinese law, I discovered a newfound, yet bittersweet sense of appreciation:

POLICE in northeast China have detained a 32-year-old man suspected of sexually assaulting and killing more than 20 children. Gong Runbo is believed to have lured the children to his apartment in Jiamusi city in Heilongjiang province where he carried out the killings and often left the bodies to decompose, reports said.

He was only stopped on February 28, when a boy escaped and managed to alert the police, according to the report in the Beijing News. Officers sent to search Gong's apartment came across a gruesome scene of rotting bodies and scattered bones, it said. Four of the corpses were still in a somewhat intact state and showed signs of having been sexually abused before their deaths, according to the paper. Forensic evidence led police to conclude that perhaps more than 20 children had been killed in the apartment, it said.

The maximum punishment for murder in China is the death penalty.

I refer to my appreciation of Chinese law in this instance as bittersweet because even though it is a demonstration of justice served, the end result is the taking of another life -- a punishment I agree with in this case, but one that is no doubt handed down far too often in China for crimes that are much, much less serious.

Of course, I can also appreciate the fact that this sick imbecile will not spend the next 27 years appealing his sentence from Death Row and nor will his execution be delayed in order to ensure that it is carried out in a humane manner - a consideration his victims were not so fortunate to receive.

show comments right here »

[boomerang] Posted by Gordon at 14:50
Permalink | Speak Up (4) | TrackBack (0)

February 28, 2006
Going public

China executes about 8,000 people a year, or 22 a day and yet they don't have too many candlelight vigils going on. The judiciary is trying to better regulate executions and bring the system out into the open:

China, which executes more people than any other country, is to hold open hearings for a large number of death penalty appeals in an effort to better regulate executions, a legal scholar said Monday. From the second half of 2006, all death penalty appeals which go to a provincial high court will be heard publicly, a departure from the usual practice of closed reviews and investigations, said Liu Renwen, a scholar at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences...

With the judicial system under scrutiny after a series of widely publicized wrongful convictions, the Supreme Court has also moved to reclaim its right to a final review of death sentences, but Liu said the policy was meeting resistance from lower courts. "When the Supreme Court can take this power back is still a question," Liu told foreign correspondents. "Local governments think it is a good tool to control public security. If they lose such power they think, of course, it would not be good."

This latter part refers to the announcement last October that the Supreme People's Court is struggling to re-assert control over capital punishment in response to widespread outrage at arbitrary sentencing. What is missing from the debate is the pros and cons of capital punishment. The article notes:
Some 68 crimes in China can incur the death penalty, about half of which are non-violent offences, Liu said.

show comments right here »

[boomerang] Posted by Simon at 09:13
Permalink | Speak Up (4) | TrackBack (2)

» Treehouse Cityguide links with: Death Penalty in China
» B.L.O.G. - Bissige Liberale ohne Gnade links with: Genickschuss für die Armen, Giftspritze für die Reichen - Über die Todesstrafe in China

February 08, 2006
It's just a phase

China's Orwellian named Ministry of Public Security last month announced an almost 7% rise in recorded "disturbances to public order", to 87,000 last year. That's more than 200 riots a day. Even in a country as vast and populous as China, that's a lot of disturbances. But the SCMP reports the Ministry isn't worried...it's all just a phase:

Mainland police have played down the growing wave of social unrest sweeping the country, describing it as a phase common to fast-growing economies worldwide. Ministry of Public Security spokesman Wu Heping said in Beijing yesterday that the rural riot was "a concept that does not exist".

"In the phase [of fast economic development], the interests, relations and positions of different parts [of society] are undergoing adjustment. In the process of adjusting, there will accordingly be an increase in [the number of] common people who, in order to defend their own interests, express their pleas to government and relevant departments through various channels," Mr Wu said.

"And I believe every country has had this process and this phase."

They're not riots, although the spokeman declined to give us the "correct" word for pitchfork wielding peasants. Here's a question for the history buffs - did America's Wild West see anything like this number of disputes?

That aside, the number of "disturbances" has risen from 10,000 a decade ago to 87,000 last year. That's one hell of a phase to be going through.

show comments right here »

[boomerang] Posted by Simon at 08:26
Permalink | Speak Up (3) | TrackBack (0)

December 29, 2005
You Scalded My Privates - Gimme $1

Chinese citizens are taking their first, tentative steps towards an American-style litigious society - or are they? If so, this example will certainly not set the class-action lawsuit industry ablaze in China. I read today about a female government official from Nanjing whose lap and private parts were badly scalded by a cup of boiling water accidentally spilled on her, apparently by a careless flight attendant on Northwest Airlines.

The captain took note of her injuries and asked two ground staff at Narita to take her to an airport clinic. But the airline would not pay US$200 for her, so she left without treatment, a decision that cost her 3 months of suffering.

What is the unfortunate woman asking in return? US$1, and apologies in major newspapers, a case she is fighting in a higher court in Hawaii. Methinks she may have better luck in getting good lawyers if she upped the ante slightly - by a factor of a hundred million, say. That tends to focus corporate attention.

To be clear, I do not expect tendentious lawsuits dragging their way through China's rickety court system anytime soon.:)

Oh, and if this story was not strange enough, a witness that said that she actually spilled the drink on herself was a Japanese missionary.

show comments right here »

[boomerang] Posted by HK Dave at 10:41
Permalink | Speak Up (1) | TrackBack (0)

November 10, 2005
China terror alert

Could Muslim extremists be this stupid? Or is it security paranoia ahead of George W. Bush's visit to China? Could elements from Xinjaing be involved? From the American Embassy in Beijing:

The Embassy has learned that Chinese police advised hotels that Islamic extremist elements could be planning to attack four and five star hotels in China sometime over the course of the next week. Chinese authorities have assured the Embassy that they are taking appropriate security measures and investigating the possible threat thoroughly. American citizens visiting Chinese four and five star hotels should review their plans carefully, remain vigilant with regard to their personal security, and exercise caution. Reports should be made to local police if one notices unusual activities in or around these areas.
The SCMP repeats the alert, rings a few people and finds most have no idea what's going on:
The warning did not say if the extremists were from within the mainland or abroad...A police spokesman in Beijing told TVB news last night it was not aware of the threat. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it had not received any notification from police and was trying to understand more about the situation.
Is it likely? Who knows. If extremists really want to drag China further into the war on terror by embarrassing them when hosting President Bush, it would be a monumental tactical and strategic blunder. But since when has logic and strategy been terrorists' strong suit?

The problem with these terror alerts are the danger of the "boy who cried wolf" syndrome. While it is prudent to err on the side of caution, surely there is a balance to be struck between the issuance of these alerts and saving them for when there is a genuine threat. What does it mean to review their plans carefully, remain vigilant with regard to their personal security, and exercise caution? Does the embassy assume that at other times people don't do these things? OK, I've reviewed my plan carefully, now what?

Ah, but if it's viewed as an act of backside-covering, that's a different matter. In that case governments and embassies have a bias to over-issuing alerts. Sometimes alerts are justified: Australian Prime Minister John Howard's alerts came just before police smashed a major pontetial terror event. But in and of themselves, these alerts matter little. They offer little constructive advice and are typically too broad and vague. In the post September 11 world, everyone is more vigilant as they get on with their lives. Crying wolf doesn't help.

Other reading

Will has more on the terror warning in Beijing and there's the terror warning in Shanghai, although the British don't seem to know anything about it.

Update (16:40)

In what can only be described as a massive "up yours" to the Americans from the Chinese, Shaky sends this:

The Chinese Ministry of Public Security informed the U.S. Embassy in Beijing on November 10 that Chinese security authorities have determined that the source of a reported threat against four and five star hotels in China is not credible. The United States Government is not aware of any other information of any threat against hotels in China, including Hong Kong. Our warden message(s) of November 9 and 10 on threats to hotels is therefore retracted.
How embarrassing. Who was saying something about wolf?

show comments right here »

[boomerang] Posted by Simon at 16:02
Permalink | Speak Up (6) | TrackBack (0)

November 03, 2005
The price of life

The cliche says life is cheap. However, in an extraordinary story, it turns out in China life can be extremely expensive indeed. Just yesterday the NYT, Forbes and several bloggers were all over the story of American businessman David Ji's kidnapping or arrest in China.

This story leaves them for dead (pardon the pun). Mainland billionaire Yuan Baojing has seemingly bought his way out of an execution by transferring his substantial assets to the state. To use another cliche, it's today's must read.

show comments right here »

[boomerang] Posted by Simon at 16:41
Permalink | Speak Up (5) | TrackBack (0)

October 27, 2005
China death penalty reforms

China has long been the capital punishment capital of the world. But it seems years of pressure has brought about modest change. The Supreme People's Court is re-asserting control over meting out capital punishment. The Xinhua article makes interesting and disturbing reading:

The Supreme Court will no longer permit provincial courts to review death sentences so as to ensure that capital punishment is meted out meticulously and fairly, Chief Justice Xiao Yang, also president of the Supreme People's Court, said Tuesday...China still practices capital punishment as a deterrent to preserve social stability, but "as few executions as possible should be carried out and as cautiously as possible, in order to avoid wrongful executions," the top judge said...

According to the law, executions must be approved by the Supreme Court before being carried out. However, to facilitate swift punishment for criminals captured during the country's 1983 "Strike Hard" anti-crime drives, an exception was made so that violent felons like murderers could be put to death with the approval merely of provincial-level "higher people's courts."

Since 2003, the Supreme Court has rejected 7.21 percent of the death sentences, ordering a retrial for lack of sufficient evidence, and changed 22.03 percent of the death verdicts to deathwith reprieval or life imprisonment, said Xiao, without giving the exact number of such sentences.

Meanwhile, provincial courts have thrown out 4.44 percent of death sentence verdicts for lack of sufficient evidence, and revised 38.14 percent of the verdicts to lesser punishments, he said. But several wrongful death sentences exposed this year has prompted legal professionals to think twice about the death penalty system. Many of them are calling for the Supreme Court to rescind provincial tribunals' right of review. A man convicted of murdering his wife in Hubei Province was very lucky when his "dead" wife emerged. The case prompted a national uproar...

Liu Zuoxiang, an professor with the Law Institute of China Academy of Social Sciences, told Xinhua the major problem with thereviewing system is that different provincial courts have different criteria on what kind of felons should be executed, which is not good for the human rights of the convicted.

While these changes are welcome, the implications are staggering. First and foremost, the implication is there have been potentially many executions in the past that were unjustified. Secondly, the rush to execution of violent criminals has meant the law has been flouted since 1983. So this measure can be seen as a re-assertion of rule of law in China. Or it could be seen as wayward provincial courts being smacked down by the Supreme Court.

Either way, it's a positive step forward. It's a shame so many have had to die to get there.

show comments right here »

[boomerang] Posted by Simon at 09:45
Permalink | Speak Up (0) | TrackBack (2)

» Treehouse Cityguide links with: Death Penalty in China
» B.L.O.G. - Bissige Liberale ohne Gnade links with: Genickschuss für die Armen, Giftspritze für die Reichen - Über die Todesstrafe in China