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1999: A Watershed Moment in China’s Legal and Moral Systems

March 17, 2021 |   By Wen Li

(Minghui.org) Zhang Jun, a notorious serial killer in China, was arrested in Chongqing in 2001. He and his gang robbed dozens of stores in different provinces between June 1993 and September 2000, killing 28 people and stealing approximately 5.36 million yuan.

A key officer in charge of this case was Wen Qiang, then deputy head of the Chongqing Police Department. “Beware! If you can't resist the temptation of money and fame, you may also break the law and end up with the same fate as me,” Zhang warned Wen before his execution in May 2001. 

Wen was indeedd later sentenced to death for bribery and executed in July 2010. “One day you will have the same fate as me,” Wen warned Wang Lijun, then head of the Chongqing Police Department responsible for his case, during a pre-trial hearing. 

Wang himself was later arrested and sentenced to 15 years in prison in September 2012.

The downfall of Wen and Wang is just the tip of the iceberg of the corrupt regime ruled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Before his death, Wen said explicitly that he simply followed the CCP's unspoken rule of corruption and bribery, without which he would not have been promoted and secured his job. He said it was the system that turned him into a bad person.

There is a Chinese saying, “It takes more than one cold day for a river to freeze three feet deep.” The corrupt legal and moral systems in China have been years in the making. Since the CCP took over power in 1949, it has been systematically destroying traditional Chinese culture and abusing the law to achieve its political agenda. 

A watershed moment, in July 1999, the CCP launched a nationwide campaign against the peaceful practice of Falun Gong. Also known as Falun Dafa, Falun Gong is a traditional mind-body cultivation system based on the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. Since the persecution began, the country has spun further out of control, both legally and morally.

1999: Beginning of Downward Spiral for China's Legal System

The Cultural Revolution, from 1966 to 1976, was a disaster for China. Red Guards broke the law, attacked people at will, and turned China into a total morass. The tragedy was so devastating that even CCP officials themselves were traumatized. 

That is why strengthening the legal system became a major push after the economic reforms that started in the late 1970s. But without political reform, the improved economy only made the totalitarian regime more reckless, resulting in corrupt officials and deteriorating moral values. This led to a weakened system in China with many hidden problems. After Zhao Ziyang was demoted in 1989 and Deng Xiaoping died in 1997, the situation became even worse when Jiang Zemin became the new CCP leader.

To shift attention from domestic problems and strengthen his rule, Jiang – who rose to power during the Tiananmen Massacre in 1989 – was eager to find an imaginary enemy. His aides, Luo Gan and Zeng Qinghong, followed closely. Jiang chose to launch a persecution against Falun Gong in 1999 while Luo took charge of the notorious 610 Office to direct the nationwide suppression. 

Introduced to the public in 1992, Falun Gong is a peaceful meditation system that focuses on personal improvement through the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. Although Jiang targeted Falun Gong simply to exercise his dictatorial power, he unintentionally worsened the CCP's corruption as the entire state apparatus and general public, without any legal basis or moral grounds, were mobilized to attack innocent Falun Gong practitioners. 

In the beginning, however, despite repeated attempts from Jiang and his aides, not many officials, including Politburo members, were interested in persecuting Falun Gong practitioners. Other than several provinces including Shandong and Liaoning, quite a few provinces were reluctant to carry out the persecution order. Even in late 1999, many officials in Guangdong, a southern province in China, believed Falun Gong practitioners innocent people and refused to illegally sentence any practitioners. 

Under this circumstance, Jiang went to Guangdong in person in February 2000, reprimanding officials for failing to actively follow his persecution order. Li Changchun, then Party Secretary of Guangdong, was forced to self criticize. Jiang also directly ordered Shenzhen City to beef up its persecution activities. Under the pressure of Jiang and Luo, officials in Guangdong began to send Falun Gong practitioners to labor camps and prisons. 

It was reported that Jiang and his followers evaluated officials’ performance based on their attitude towards Falun Gong. Those who actively suppressed practitioners were rewarded and promoted, while those who were reluctant to do so were reprimanded. 

Jiang and his accomplices staged the self-immolation incident on Tiananmen Square on January 23, 2001, Chinese New Year's Eve, to incite public hatred towards Falun Gong and justify his intensified persecution. This tragic hoax indeed had the desired effect. 

Ad Hoc Law by Judge: “One More Word Means One More Year in Jail”

Zhou Yongkang, a key figure in Jiang’s regime, played a critical role in escalating the persecution against Falun Gong. During his tenure as Party Secretary of Sichuan Province between January 2000 and December 2002, Zhou actively promoted Jiang's persecution policy. Once, when Jiang inspected Sichuan Province and heard that 43 practitioners had lost their lives in the suppression, he praised Zhou for the “accomplishment.” 

As a result, Jiang promoted Zhou to Minister of Public Security as well as Deputy Party Secretary of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Committee (PLAC). In 2007, Zhou became Party Secretary of the PLAC and a member of the Politburo’s Standing Committee. In the same year, he also became head of the Central 610 Leadership Team that directed the nationwide persecution against Falun Gong. 

“You can ignore murderers or arsonists, but you have to go after Falun Gong!” Zhou once instructed lower officials. As the persecution of Falun Gong became the primary standard to judge an officer’s performance, conscience was destroyed and the evil side of human nature was strengthened.

As a result, many officials in the police, procuratorial, and justice system paid little attention to the law. They mistreated practitioners at will. When Ms. Han Yuejuan, a Falun Gong practitioner and a section chief in the propaganda department of Dongshan District of Guangzhou City, Guangdong Province, was sentenced to three years for her faith in 2002, she said to the presiding judge that the prison sentence was illegal and called out “Falun Dafa is good” three times. The judge immediately increased her sentence to six years, saying that every utterance of “Falun Dafa is good” counted toward one extra year. 

Similarly, Mr. Zhang Jinsheng from Qingyuan County, Liaoning Province, was tried in September 2004 and sentenced to eight years for helping others access the Minghui website. To defend his innocence, Mr. Zhang called out “Falun Dafa is good” and wrote the same on the official verdict. The judge extended his sentence to 13 years, saying, “One More Word Means One More Year in Jail” and that each word of Fa-lun-da-fa-hao (“Falun Dafa is good”) was counted as one extra year. 

The judicial and legal systems are the last avenue for ordinary citizens to redress injustice, but both of these were undermined during the brutal persecution of Falun Gong. Francis Bacon, English philosopher and statesman, once said that an unfair judgment could be 10 times worse than a crime. Crime is a contempt of law like polluting water, while an unfair judgment is undermining the law itself – similar to destroying the water source. 

The Darkness of the Judicial System in China

Corruption and abuse of power are frightening prospects – but under the rule of the CCP, these have become a norm. The awakening and call to justice after the Cultural Revolution was again ruined during the illegal persecution of Falun Gong. There is an old saying, “Following virtue is like climbing a hill; following evil is like slipping down a precipice.” Once the Pandora's box is opened, there is no longer peace or justice. 

One common problem is the abuse or misuse of the law to impose injustice on those who have been wronged, which has been seen in all manner of cases. This happens because the wrongdoers often have power or connections to bribe the judges.

Chinese media reported that back in 2005, several officials in the Fuyang Intermediate Court of Anhui Province were investigated for taking bribes and engaging in gambling and prostitution. The officials included deputy president Zhu Ya, executive presiding judge Wang Chunyou, and two economic presiding judges Chen Heping and Dong Bingxu. 

Another article from People Weekly reported that over 10 officials from the Hunan Province Supreme Court were investigated, including Wu Zhenhan, president of the court. 

Other provinces also have similar problems. A report from the Hubei Province Procuratorate showed that 40% of dereliction crimes committed by judges in the province were joint crimes co-committed by several judges. 

Sometimes other professionals were also involved, with judges and lawyers colluding for mutual benefit. An analysis from the Justice Ministry showed that 44 lawyers were involved in bribing a total of 13 judges in the Wuhan Intermediate Court of Hubei Province. A follow-up investigation of 6 cities in the province showed that 88 lawyers participated in bribery. 

Such injustice often leads to tragedy. For example, many incidents have occurred in which judges were attacked by plaintiffs. This has happened in Guangxi Province, Jiangsu Province, Beijing, Hubei Province, and Hunan Province. By acting illegally and harming ordinary citizens, the judges have pushed victims to the extreme. Some of these judges were injured or died in acts of revenge. 

Meeting Their Own Fate

Mao Zedong once said, “I was involved in drafting the Chinese Constitution, but I do not remember its content. We cannot rely on laws to maintain social order.” Instead, major decisions would be made by holding quarterly meetings every year, he added. 

It is known that the CCP does not follow the law. Instead, it resorts to violence to suppress and intimidate the people. This includes the Anti-Rightist movement in the 1950s, the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s and 1970s, and the “harsh punishment” movement in the 1980s (for example, stealing a bike could lead to a death sentence). But such campaigns were intermittent and there were breaks in between the various political movements. After Jiang took power in 1989, especially after he launched the persecution against Falun Gong in 1999, corruption and abuse of the law have become the norm, with no break. 

There is a Chinese saying, “Good is rewarded with good and evil meets with evil.” A large number of CCP officials have met such a fate since 2012. According to the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (WOIPFG), at least 164 officials who abused the human rights of Falun Gong practitioners have been disciplined or sentenced for bribery, corruption, or other crimes. These perpetrators are also listed in Minghui.org's list of perpetrators. Below are several examples. 

As mentioned above, Zhou Yongkang was one of the key perpetrators in the suppression of Falun Gong, holding positions ranging from Party Secretary of Sichuan Province to Party Secretary of the Central PLAC. He is directly responsible for the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners, including the notorious forced organ harvesting. In June 2015, Zhou received a life sentence for corruption. 

Wu Aiying, former Deputy Party Secretary of Shandong Province and former Justice Minister, directly supervised the persecution of Falun Gong in Shandong Province. She also hosted defamatory exhibitions against Falun Gong. In October 2017, Wu was disciplined and demoted.

Xi Xiaoming was Deputy President of the Supreme Court for 11 years. In February 2017 Xi received a life sentence. 

Xu Fa, former chief of the Heilongjiang Province Procuratorate, was heavily involved in the persecution. During his tenure, Heilongjiang had the highest number of deaths of Falun Gong practitioners caused by the persecution. Among these practitioners, 28 were imprisoned before their deaths. After being disciplined and demoted in 2004, Xu committed suicide in August that year. 

Ding Xinfa, former chief of the Jiangxi Province Procuratorate, was responsible for the arrest, sentencing, imprisonment, and labor camp detentions of many practitioners. In January 2006, Ding himself was sentenced to 17 years in prison. 

Wu Zhenhan, former President of the Hunan Supreme Court, gave numerous orders to persecute Falun Gong practitioners. At least 27 practitioners had lost their lives by December 2004. In November 2006, Wu received a death sentence. 

Li Baojin, former Deputy Party Secretary of the Tianjin PLAC, was in charge of the persecution of Falun Gong in his area. He was disciplined in 2006 and received a death sentence the following year. 

Xu Qianfei was a key officer in the Yunnan Province court system during the suppression of Falun Gong. In July 2017, Xu was disciplined and demoted. 

According to China Discipline Inspection and Supervision News, 129 high-level officials in the PLAC system (including 5 central level and 124 provincial level), as well as 84 officers in the police system (including 4 central level and 80 provincial level) have been disciplined since 2017. 

We hope that more officials, as well as ordinary citizens, will recognize the vicious nature of the CCP and separate themselves from the regime in order to ensure a better future. 

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