China Justice

‘The China Justice theme engages with key issues of how law and justice – including punishment and other state responses to behaviour deemed unacceptable – are negotiated in this age of rapid social transformation.’

Book seller sent to jail for selling bootlegged Hong Kong books

Wu Ping, a book peddler in Nanjing, is on trial for selling pirated copies of Hong Kong published books that touch sensitive historic issues. The books include Red Sun 红太阳, Gaol Diary 看守所杂记 and Hidden Anecdotes from the Culture Revolution 文革秘闻. According to the article, Wu is likely to face five to six years of prison for infringement of copyright and illegal operation.

References:

  • 扬子晚报: 书贩转卖《红太阳》等港版禁书遭诉 (2012-05-02)

 

CCTV accuses McDonald’s and Carrefour of food safety violations

Living up to its tradition of catching some unlucky ones for public to let off their anger every 15 March, Chinese state TV accused McDonald’s of selling expired food, triggering another wave of public anxiety over food safety. The report led to the temporary shutdown of a McDonald restaurant near Sanlitun in Beijing. In response, McDonald’s Corp. also issued public apologies and said they were ‘investigating the isolated incident’ and would ‘resolutely deal with it earnestly and take concrete actions to apologize to consumers’.

Another foreign company fell victim to this year’s 15 March exposė is French retailer Carrefour whose stores in Zhengzhou were found to have altered expiration dates on some chickens and sold regular chickens as more expensive free-range birds.

References:

  • 21CN综合: 曝光黑心麦当劳 过期食品改期销售 (2012-3-16)

 

Chinese netizens awed by US ambassador’s frugality

When attending this year’s Boao Forum in Hainan, Gary Locke, US ambassador to China, was discovered not to be staying at the ritzy hotel being enjoyed by his Chinese colleagues. His aide later revealed to a reporter that the ambassador could not afford to stay there because US government regulations state that government employees are only allowed to stay in hotels within budget. Locke’s $177-a-night budget was less than the dally rate of the conference hotel, which was $419.

In awe of the US ambassador’s frugality, the reporter went out to verify that Ambassador Locke was indeed staying at a cheaper hotel. She then posted the information on her Weibo account, which drew many comments, most commenters lamented the lack of frugality among Chinese officials.

Previously, Gary Locke captured the attention of Chinese netizens when pictures circulated online showing that he flies economy class and buying his own Starbucks beverages in Seattle.

References:

  • 时代周报: 温默:谁给骆家辉戴上了节俭的“帽子” (2012-4-25)

 

People’s Daily criticizes officials secretly obtaining foreign citizenship

In a strong worded editorial, People’s Daily criticized corrupt government officials for secretly transferring their ill-gotten wealth abroad and obtaining foreign citizenship. The article came shortly after news reporting that Bo-Gu Kailai 薄谷开来, wife of sacked Chongqing Party Chief Bo Xilai 薄熙来, was taken into custody as suspect for British businessman Neil Heywood’s death. According to Jiang Weiping, a journalist who was previously jailed for investigating into Bo’s corruption, Bo-Gu Kailai had a Singaporean green card and Hong Kong ID and might even have obtained permanent residency in the United Kingdom.

References:

  • 人民日报: 党媒:部分腐败人员秘密取得外籍或双重国籍 (2012-4-11)

 

‘Vacation-style medical treatment’ for Chongqing gangbusting cop Wang Lijun

On Thursday 2 February, Chongqing’s Information Office announced that Wang Lijun 王立军,the triad-busting police chief who has been working under Bo Xilai to crack down on gang crimes in Chongqing would be given a new portfolio in charge of economic affairs in place of his public security post.

Early on the day of 8 February 8, photos began circulating on Weibo showing a large police presence around the American consulate in Chengdu.

Soon after that, people on Twitter and Sina Weibo began speculating that Wang Lijun had sought refuge inside the US Consulate and was intending to defect.

Then at 11:06 am, the Chongqing Information Office pubished the following announcement on their Sina Weibo account:

According to reports, because of long term overwork, a state of anxiety and indisposition, Vice Mayor Wang Lijun has agreed to accept vacation style medical treatment [休假式的治疗].

The announcement did nothing to end the speculation on the Internet, with some commentators believing that something did happen at the US Consulate and others believing that Wang has fallen into political troubles. Phoenix TV’s iFeng website set up a special page about Wang Lijun.

References:

  • 重庆市人民政府新闻办公室的新浪微博: 王立军接受休假式的治疗 (2012-02-08)
  • 莫之许 on Twitter: 休假式治疗的同义词:暂时性活埋。 (2012-02-08)
  • 新华 / QQ.com : 重庆副市长王立军超负荷工作 接受休假式治疗 (2012-02-08)
  • 新华 / 凤凰网: 重庆市副市长王立军正接受休假式治疗 (2012-02-08)

Purported open letter from Wang Lijun

In a blog post titled Chongqing American TV drama, Han Han says he spent last night constantly refreshing the home page of the People’s Daily website, hoping to see some official announcement that would clarify what has happened to Wang Lijun, former mob busting top cop of Chongqing city.

This morning, Li Yinhe, the mild mannered sociologist best known for her fiercely liberal views on sexual freedom, posted a short note that purports to be an open letter from Wang Lijun. Below is a rough translation of Li Yinhe’s posting; the same letter is being circulated in JPG format on Weibo.

We have no way of verifying the authenticity of this letter, but it certainly represents a view of Bo Xilai that seems to be held by many Chinese people who write on the Internet and post to Weibo. It’s as likely to be a fake as Bo Yibo’s last words.

Li Yinhe’s note (her blog post was later deleted):

I don’t know the whole situation so I cannot judge it, but I am just putting Wang Lijun’s own one-sided statement out there.

References:

  • 李银河的博客: 王立军公开信 (2012-02-10)
  • 韩寒的博客: 重庆美剧 (2012-02-10)

The Chongqing Patient

The Economic Observer‘s website published a lenghty story about Wang Lijun, the former top cop in Chongqing. The Chinese version of the article was later deleted from the website, but reproduced in its entirety of the blog of investigative journalist Wang Keqin. The English version of the article remains live on the the Economic Observer‘s website.

The titke ‘Chongqing Patient’ is a reference to the statement from the Chongqing City Information Office about Wang Lijun’s ‘vacation style medical treatment’.

Both articles are attached to this post.

Slightly related: On 21 February, the Chongqing City Information Office, the organ that tweeted that Wang Lijun was undergoing ‘vacation style medical treatment’, tweeted the following gnomic utterance:

You may not suffer for a lifetime, but you’ll always have temporary difficulties. There are many who seek to escape temporary pain, but end up suffering for a lifetime.
#微博传箴言#人不会苦一辈子,但总会苦一阵子。许多人为了逃避苦一阵子,却苦了一辈子。

References:

  • 王克勤的博客,经济观察网: 重庆病人 (2012-02-12)
  • The Economic Observer (English website): The Chongqing Patient (2012-02-23)
  • 重庆市人民政府新闻办公室的微博: 人不会苦一辈子,但总会苦一阵子。许多人为了逃避苦一阵子,却苦了一辈子。 (2012-02-21)

Debate over Wu Ying’s death penalty for fraud

Wu Ying, a wealthy Zhejiang-based businesswoman, was sentenced to death in 2009 for illegal fund-raising. She appealed, and on 18 January the Zhejiang Higher Court upheld the sentence, agreeing with the lower court’s conclusion that she pooled money from a number of investors with no intention of repaying it. Her case sparked a discussion about private entrepreneurship and the possibility that Wu Ying’s sentence was decided partly in retaliation for her role in providing information that brought down several officials on corruption charges — she was not, however, prosecuted for offering bribes, and bribery is not a capital crime.

Commentators mused over how private entrepreneurs are often compelled to seek out unauthorized sources of funding and thus run the risk of being targeted in fraud cases. A feature story in the November 2011 issue of the English-language edition of China Entrepreneur magazine (posted to the web in January 2012) looked at Wu Ying’s case as only the most visible example of the shadowy world of underground finance. And in a lengthy commentary on the case, activist lawyer Teng Biao commented that China’s traditional blurry line between civil and criminal law has resulted in the death penalty being levied on crimes that do not merit it.

References:

  • 滕彪: 吴英的生命和你我有关 (2012-01-23)
  • 浙江省高级人民法院: 吴英被控集资诈骗案一审辩护词及二审裁定书 (2012-01-18)
  • 张雁峰: 吴英被控集资诈骗案一审辩护词 (2009-04-16)
  • China Entrepreneur: Will Wu Ying be sentenced to death for borrowing money? (2011-11-01)

Zhejiang vice-governor defends private financing

Wu Ying, an entrepreneur convicted of financial fraud and sentenced to death by a provincial court in Zhejiang, has created an outpouring of sympathy from the public as well as official Chinese media, and elicited debates on the Chinese legal system, entrepreneurship and economy.

In an editorial on Zhejiang Daily, Chen Derong 陈德荣, vice governor, criticizes what he calls the ‘demonization’ of private financing.

According to him: ‘Wenzhou used to be the poorest place in Zhejiang before the reform and opening up. What did the government do? All it did was to give people freedom to make money, which stimulates the people’s vitality, leading to the prosperity of Wenzhou.’

Chen concludes his editorial by saying that Wenzhou entrepreneurs have ‘used their fresh blood to protect the market economy’. A number of entrepreneurs in Wenzhou were reported to have committed suicide in late 2011 as they were unable to repay huge private loans they had taken out with local financiers, often at rates of 70-90 percent. This led some in China to speak out against the practice of underground lending. Chen’s editorial today counters by praising what he calls the ‘Wenzhou Model’, based on a fierce entrepreneurial spirit.

References:

  • 浙江日报: 企业家用鲜血捍卫市场经济 别妖魔化民间金融 (2012-2-10)

Mao Yushi urges abandonment of illegal fundraising crime

Following the conviction of Wu Ying, a thirty-one-year-old woman who was sentenced to death for illegal fundraising, many people expressed sympathy or support on the Internet. Mao Yushi, prominent economist stated that that the so-called ‘illegal fundraising’ crime should be abandoned. Speaking at a meeting, Mao cited himself as an example, saying that he had been raising fund and give loans for many years and was praised for that by local government officials.

References:

  • 中财网: 茅于轼:吴英非法集资罪名不成立 我就做了好多年 (2012-2-7)

 

Anyang fund scam victims go on protest

Tens of thousands of people in Anyang, Henan province took to the streets on the New Year’s Day after a number of local fund-raising scams fell apart, leaving hundreds of thousands of victims stripped of their life savings. According to some reports, about 30,000 angry protestors ‘sang China’s national anthem, attempted to block the railway, and got into confrontation with the police who tried to intervene’. The Anyang police authority has determined that there were at least forty-three scams and arrested hundreds of suspects.

References:

  • 乌有之乡: 河南安阳非法集资案内幕:集资者背后的权力黑手是罪恶之源 (2011-11-25)
  • 安阳日报: 传安阳担保公司外逃卷走400亿 官方称尚无具体数额-新闻频道-和讯网(2012-1-2)

 

Caixin Century calls foul on CCTV probe into Da Vinci furniture fraud

In a multi-part exposé published in its first issue of 2012, Caixin Century accused CCTV of misusing an undercover camera operation to falsely accuse Da Vinci Furniture of selling Chinese-made furniture as imported from Italy. A consumer program on CCTV conducted an extensive hidden-camera investigation of the furniture company before broadcasting a report in July saying that Da Vinci produced its furniture in Dongguan and shipped it across the border to spend a day in a tariff-free shipping zone in Shanghai before being re-imported as Italian.

Caixin Century alleges that the whole report was motivated by a disgruntled customer, with millions in unpaid bills, who pulled strings to launch the investigation, and that the proof for the falsified origin accusation was one over-eager salesperson at a furniture manufacturer who hyped up the company’s connections to Da Vinci. The exposé also alleges that a PR agency associated with the main CCTV reporter made a deal with Da Vinci to suppress further damaging hidden-camera footage. The reporter, Li Wenxue, issued a statement on 1 January denying the allegations.

This week, the Shanghai Administration of Industry and Commerce slapped Da Vinci with a 1.33 million yuan fine. Da Vinci stated its intent to sue the Administration for overstepping its authority in the course of its investigation.

References:

  • 财新《新世纪》: 公关陷阱 (2011-12-31)
  • 财新《新世纪》: “造假门”始末 (2011-12-31)
  • 财新《新世纪》: 达芬奇冤不冤 (2011-12-31)
  • 财新《新世纪》: 达芬奇案中案 (2011-12-31)
  • 新京报: 上海罚达芬奇家居133万 (2011-12-24)
  • 新京报: 达芬奇不服罚 上海工商应诉 (2011-12-25)
  • 中国网络电视台: 中央电视台《每周质量报告》记者李文学严正声明 (2012-01-01)