There’s a good article in Time Asia on what the Chinese police are capable of:
The police insisted it was a model bust. They’d stopped a taxi on its way into the industrial city of Lanzhou on the fringe of the Gobi Desert. While some officers pointed their guns at driver Jing Aiguo’s temple, others retrieved from the back seat of the car nine plastic sacks containing three kilos of heroin.
Jing had never run afoul of the law before, but the police—then engaged in one of China’s periodic “Strike Hard” crime crackdowns—quickly obtained his confession. After a one-hour trial, the judge announced his sentence: death.
Before Jing could be executed, however, fortune handed him a reprieve. Lanzhou police arrested a dealer who admitted that he had helped officers set Jing up for a drug rap. Jing won a second trial—and the real story came out.
The arresting officers had planted the heroin. They had coerced Jing’s confession by shocking him with electric batons and hanging him by his handcuffed wrists until “the blood poured down my arms,” Jing testified during his trial. By the time of his release last January, the cab driver had spent more than a year on death row and hadn’t seen his family in 518 days. He received just $4,000 in compensation for his ordeal—less than he would have earned driving his cab.
Another shocker. I just have to wonder, here’s a story of a man who lived to tell about it. How many others does this happen to who aren’t so lucky? I suspect we cannot begin to imagine. As the reporter goes on to explain, it all ties back to a political system in which there’s no checks and balances, nobody charged with overseeing what the police are doing.
I need reminders like this every now and then to appreciate how fortunate I am to live in a free country.
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.