Rule of law in Chongqing

The always dependable Xujun Eberlein has a short but moving post celebrating the release from jail of Beijing attorney Li Zhuang who dared to defend an alleged Chongqing “gangster,” a label that applies to anyone who dares oppose Chongqing Committee Secretary Bo Xilai. But before we break out the Champagne over Li’s return home, Xujun reminds us of how the law is carried out in China’s fastest growing municipality, and why it’s way too early to celebrate.

While Li Zhuang is finally home, a Chongqing citizen, Fang Hong, was sent to labor reform for mocking Bo Xilai’s handling of Li Zhuang. Fang also has a supportive and filial son, Fang Di, who hired a renowned lawyer, Yuan Yulai, for his father. Yuan Yulai is reputed to be most interested in cases of “citizens suing officials.” A couple of days ago Yuan wrote on his micro-blog that Fang Di and other family members have disappeared after being summoned by police to talk.

It’s in the last paragraph that Xujun lets it all out.

Fang Hong’s arrest shocked me more than Li Zhuang’s trial, for even the appearance of legal procedure is abandoned. It is a stark naked case of “speech crime.” If I had had any illusions about Bo Xilai before, like the first time when I saw his handling of Chongqing’s taxi strike in 2008, Fang Hong’s arrest was the last straw to convince me Bo is a ruthless politician believing in Mao style iron-handed rule, and a political gambler who stakes all on a single throw. I just don’t know, 35 years after the Cultural Revolution ended, how far Bo can go in today’s China.

Who’s the gangster here? There are several more posts over at Xujun’s blog on this depressing topic. I hope everyone reads them. They serve as a grim reminder that rule of law has a long way to go in China, where you can still disappear at the whim of an official, and where those on the top are accountable to no one. And keep your eye on Chongqing and Bo Xilai. Is his hearkening back to Mao the sign of an ominous trend, or it it an isolated aberration?

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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.

The Discussion: 14 Comments

The thing that confuses or even frankly disgusts me is that during conversations here in China quite a few people have pointed to Bo Xilai and Chongqing as something “new” and “interesting” that is happening in the Chinese political world. But if arresting people and singing “red songs” are perceived as new and interesting, people really have short memories!
Of course, let’s not get suprised that there is no rule of law in Chongqing. There is no rule of law anywhere in China! In my opinion, the main difference between Bo Xilai and the rest of the party is that Bo is fascism unfiltered while most of the time the party apparatus maintains “fascism lite.”

June 13, 2011 @ 11:17 pm | Comment

It is not rule of law, it is not even rule by law, it is 100% arbitrariness.

June 14, 2011 @ 2:11 am | Comment

Thanks Richard. I will share the link on The Dark Princeling Bo Xilai

Garage Land

http://kingtubbysblog.blogspot.com

I am equally interested in his cross-provincial influence and how he had the frighteners put on that windbag Yang Hengjun a while ago in Guangzhou.Convoluted tale which requires a scroll thru my back links. Yang trades info with John Garnaut (who I enjoy reading), of that I’m sure.

June 14, 2011 @ 5:04 am | Comment

Who’s the new gangster?

Why clearly the Chinese Communist Party, of course…

June 14, 2011 @ 5:16 am | Comment

Of course there is rule of law in China. It’s just that in the spirit of Judge Dredd, the CCP sees ITSELF as the law.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course.

June 14, 2011 @ 5:30 am | Comment

There is nothing wrong with scumbags like Bo Xilai that a bullet in the head wouldn’t cure!

June 14, 2011 @ 6:34 am | Comment

Keep in mind Bo’s education and family background. He is a Red Guard turned politician who went through local, central and again local politics all these years. His father had been a mater political broker in his late years among top leaders.

June 14, 2011 @ 9:42 am | Comment

I think a more accurate description is “a rule of laws”–meaning that there are “laws” to fit every transgression, or perceived transgression.

June 15, 2011 @ 6:39 am | Comment

O/t: riot among migrant workers in Guangzhou after a pregnant street vendor was roughed up. Maybe a release of some pent up frustration among this group.

June 15, 2011 @ 7:57 am | Comment

I hear from friends of mine in Guangzhou that it’s getting really ugly. As Lisa said, things may not be quite as harmonious as they’d lead us to believe.

June 15, 2011 @ 8:11 am | Comment

I think that is one of the limitations of enforced harmony. Harmony by force is harmony in name only.

June 15, 2011 @ 8:37 am | Comment

According to an on the spot BBC interview, it very much involves people from Sichuan. Being going for about 3 days now. Things are quite during the day,but then get pretty active at night. Rumours … the real currency ….going around is that the authorities had a ring in of the pregnant women and her hubbie appear on TV. No physical damage done sort of thing. Whether true or not, is says a lot about the role of truth and falsity, facts and instant urban beliefs in parts of PRC today.

June 15, 2011 @ 9:16 am | Comment

I also heard they had paraded the husband before the cameras to say no harm no foul. No coercion there, I’m sure.

June 15, 2011 @ 12:19 pm | Comment

Fang also has a supportive and filial son Fang Di who hired a renowned lawyer Yuan Yulai for his father. is reputed to be most interested in cases of citizens suing officials. A couple of days ago Yuan wrote on his micro-blog that Fang Di and other family members have disappeared after being summoned by police to talk. ..Fang Hongs arrest shocked me more than Li Zhuangs trial for even the appearance of legal procedure is abandoned.

June 28, 2011 @ 5:26 am | Comment

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