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15,000 Sign Petition to End Forced Labor Camp System

On Monday July 7, more than 15,000 Chinese scholars and experts signed a petition, calling on the government to end China’s forced labor camp system. They believe that the forced labor camp lacks legality, and it may lead to administrative power abuse. They also pointed out that the system failed to protect citizen’s rights.

The forced labor camp system was introduced in 1956 from the Soviet Union. Under the system, the government can send undesirables to do hard labor in a concentration camp without any trial. The Chinese government uses it to punish Christians, Buddhists, pro-democracy activists and Falun Gong practitioners.

Fan Yafeng, a sponsor of the petition and a Beijing-based social scientist said that the petition was intended to ease the worsening tension between the people and the government.

Source: Voice of America, July 8, 2008 
http://voanews.com/chinese/w2008-07-08-voa67.cfm

250 Million Unemployed in China

2008 was a record year for China’s unemployment rate. A total of 250 million people are currently out of a job. Many of the 6 million college graduates will find it harder to find work this year. Affected by a strong Chinese Renminbi and rist in the cost of materials, many export-oriented companies have gone bankrupt. Due to a central government policy of eliminating ‘backward’ businesses, state owned companies were being closed at a peak rate.

In a recent estimate by Tian Chengping, former minister of China Labor and Social Security Ministry, in 2008, China’s unemployed population will reach 50 million in urban areas and 200 million in rural areas.

Source: China New Digest, July 9, 2008 
http://www.cnd.org/my/modules/wfsection/article.php%3Farticleid=20038

Man Who Killed Police Had Been a Victim of Police Brutality

On July 1, 2008, the 87th birthday of the Chinese Communist Party, Yang Jia, a 28 year old Beijing resident went to the Police Headquarters of Shanghai’s Zhabei District and killed six policemen and injured four with a knife.

According to stories posted on the Internet, Yang was tortured by the police last year over a bicycle theft charge. He was later found innocent and released. Later a doctor told him that his reproductive organ had been permanently injured by the police. After his attempt to seek compensation failed, he went on to the rampage. He was selective and targeted at middle aged men while sparing women and younger men. 

A majority of the Chinese Internet surfers cheered his action. They called him a hero who was seeking justice for the people. Some compared him to Rambo.

Source: China News Digest, July 7, 2008 
http://my.cnd.org/modules/wfsection/article.php?articleid=20022

Ex-Security Chief: Wengan Security Agents Suppressed Protests on Five Earlier Occassions

Shen Guirong, the former chief of Wengan County Public Security Bureau, said in an interview after being demoted that his police forces were often pulled in to do non-police duties such as suppressing social unrest.  In the past several years, on five occasions Shen had to dispatch hundreds of police to suppress social unrest arising from public discontent over government abuses and corruption.

Shen was demoted on July 3 because of "serious dereliction of duty” during June 28 protests in which tens of thousands of local residents trashed and set fire to the buildings of the Party, the police, the courts and the secret police, over the death of a female middle school student.

Source: China Newsweek, July 9, 20008
http://news.sina.com.cn/c/2008-07-09/040115896453.shtml

Gang Infiltration in China’s Schools

Gangs have penetrated into middle schools in China, according to lecturers from a seminar on crime prevention held in Guangzhou, China. Experts are calling for the justice system to get involved with these hate groups. The following is a translation of a report on the seminar published by Radio Free Asia. [1]

Some group members are actively recruiting students in middle schools to their organizations. Not only do they threaten students, but also force them to hand over their money. Their actions have created a bad image in the community. According to Hong Kong Takungpao [a Chinese-language newspaper], Liao Zongyi, Guangzhou City deputy prosecutor, said at the seminar that over the last several years the local juvenile crime rate continues to increase and these school gangs still exist despite being banned multiple times. Some gangs have more than one hundred members; thus, they are severely endangering society. These gangs have set up activities at many middle schools in Guangzhou City. There are more than 10 well-known gangs. They intimidate and lure other students to join their groups. According to the report, the main activities of gang members are recruiting people into their organizations, threatening people, and extorting money. They then turn the money into the leaders of these hate groups outside schools. Student members pay monthly membership fees from $4 to $10 (30 RMB to 80 RMB), thereby providing gang leaders approximately $120 (1,000 RMB) in cash just on membership fees alone.

Ms. Guo, professor of psychology at Zhongshan University, often volunteers to provide psychological counseling for juveniles. She said middle school-age students have a tendency to be group oriented and therefore want to be in groups, which makes them easy targets for gangs in society to manipulate.
 
"The characteristic of puberty (age 13 to 16) is that teenagers want to find a feeling of belonging from their peers to prove their lives have meaning and value. Even for an outstanding student, if his/her friends won’t accept him/her, he/she could feel that heaven was collapsing. This age group is deeply influenced by hormonal changes. In addition, regardless of country, during these teenage years (age 13 to 16) they are more likely to commit murders compared to other age categories.”

Dr. Liu Xiaozhu, a sociologist from the United States, said that the main reasons for juveniles to form unhealthy gangs were due to the rapid changes in social structures, poor economic conditions, and slow responses from the community.

"First of all, gangs from overseas come into China, especially from Hong Kong and Taiwan, making Guangdong province a rough place. If the social order is bad, the juvenile hate groups become attractive. Other factors are the stress coming from education and employment pressures. These environments allow for hate groups to easily develop.”
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According to official Chinese data, since 2000, the juvenile crime rate has annually increased 13 percent. Juvenile crimes make up 70 percent of national crimes; among these, 70 percent of juvenile crimes were committed by juveniles between the ages of 15 and 16. In other words, juveniles between the ages of 15 and 16 committed 50 percent of the overall national crimes. Normally, students with poor grades are more likely to join the gangs. However, a middle school “black dragon gang” from Guangzhou City shows that most of the outstanding students are also part of the gang. 

Liu Xiaozhu states that juveniles are full of energy. If they lack appropriate group activities, they create social problems easily. He concludes that the current juvenile education focuses too much on fame and that a lack of moral value is another reason for the increasing juvenile crimes.

"Our channels for guiding youth have become problematic. For example, it is said that religion is an important part in juveniles’ lives, but in China religion is depressed. If all the areas are blocked, and the newspaper is full of hypocritic propaganda, it will finally depress the juveniles to develop anti-social psychology. I think this is very sad."

Chinese experts have proposed to strengthen laws punishing juvenile offenders, lowering the age limits for the death penalty and criminal responsibility, and establishing a justice system for charging juvenile gangs. However, Liu Xiaozhu said that China has the world’s most severe criminal penalties. Therefore, the key to solving juvenile crime is not through severe punishment, but to rely on improving the quality of education and perfecting community support and family functions. 

Endnote:
[1] Radio Free Asia, June 24
http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/yataibaodao/campus-06242008104134.html?searchterm=None

Ministry of Foreign Affairs: the Improvements on Human Rights are up to Chinese People to Judge

In speaking about the human rights issues in China during a regular press conference on July 8, Qin Gang, the spokesperson of Ministry of Foreign Affairs said: “China’s human rights situation is making consistent progress. This is recognized by any of those who hold unbiased views (about China). China did not make the commitment to improve human rights because of the Olympics. The Chinese Communist Party was making effort to improve the human rights at the establishment of the Party. The Party will put this goal as the top priority and will not change under any circumstances. The effort of human rights improvements are not judged by the standards set by any foreign countries, forces, organizations or any individual views. It is up to 1.3 billion Chinese People to judge.”

Source: Xinhua, July 8, 2008
http://news.xinhuanet.com/newscenter/2008-07/08/content_8511939.htm