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<-Back to WTN Archives China's Legal System on Trial
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World Tibet Network News

Thursday, January 11, 1996

2. China's Legal System on Trial

Editorial from Hong Kong Ming Pao on Dec. 17, 1995

THE verdict on WEI Jingsheng's case has finally been handed to his family.
The world-shocking political trial shows that justice on the Chinese
mainland remains subservient to politics. To questions from outside,
Chinese officials have responded by saying, "Wei was punished in
accordance with the law." But that is totally unconvincing.

In the verdict document, WEI is said to have drawn up an "action plan for
a conspiracy" with the object of "subverting the government". The "action
plan" is in fact a document drafted by WEI for the purpose of raising
money. Called "A Synopsis of the Projects for Which Assistance Is
Required", it includes six projects regarded by the Chinese authorities as
"evidence": to control a lawful financial institution which employs and
preserves funds so as to finance pro-democracy activities; to set up a
company which organizes cultural activities such as shows and exhibitions,
thereby building up a force supporting pro-democracy activities; to start
trade-union movements; to set up a fund to help victims of political
persecution; and to set up a fund to finance united-front work.

In fact, WEI only managed to raise a small sum, just sufficient for
acquiring a 12.5% stake in "Beijing Xibianmen City Credit Cooperative", a
tiny concern, and putting on a "Chinese, Japanese and Korean Modern Art
Exhibition" in Beijing in the name of Lifeway Limited, a company
registered in Hong Kong. All other "projects" remained on paper. The
court found him guilty of "plotting to subvert the government" and "doing
acts endangering the People's Republic of China". But how can the court
be said to have had regard to "hard facts" or "conclusive evidence"?

Even if WEI had succeeded in raising money, acquired a credit cooperative,
set up a cultural company and helped victims of the June 4 incident, would
he have committed what amounts to crime of "subverting the government"?
The subversion of a government is a serious matter. Needless to say,
Chinese citizens are not allowed to publish newspapers or found trade
unions. Even if WEI had published a newspaper and established contact
with trade unions, he would only have done acts preparatory to the
furtherance of a pro-democracy movement. As long as a movement was
intended to be peaceful, rational and lawful such is just what a Chinese
citizen cherishing political ideal would seek to do (through peaceful
popular organizations) to bring about democratization, in addition to "the
four modernizations", in China. Such conduct, in fact, manifests

Before they can find WEI guilty, the Chinese authorities must prove that
the pro-democracy movement which he was to plan or to support was intended
to be a violent or unlawful activity, such as bribing a unit of the armed
forces into attempting to stage a coup and inciting citizens to use
violence to overthrow the government. The fatal weakness of the verdict
is that it mentions no evidence whatsoever to show that WEI might have
planned to launch or participate in any violent activity. As none of what
is mentioned in the Synopsis can amount to an act done with a view to
subverting the government, how can the projects possibly constitute

In Chinese criminal law, state of mind is as essential as criminal
conduct. What evidence is mentioned in the verdict as to WEI's state of
mind? The only evidence is his criticisms of the Chinese government
expressed in his submissions which he sent to Chinese leaders while
serving his sentence. WEI subsequently authorized two Hong Kong
magazines, The Ming Pao monthly and Open, to publish them. In these
submissions, the Chinese Communist regime was said to be "autocratic,
despotic" and "stubbornly to share the Nazis' views on human rights". WEI
also wrote that "it is necessary to know Mao Zedong and the things under
him in their true colors, and fight them", and that "Tibet is undoubtedly
a sovereign country". The Chinese government may differ with WEI and
refute these views, but there is no factual ground whatsoever on which any
court can regard the expression of these views to be "manufacturing
publicity with the object of subverting the people's democratic
dictatorship and the Socialist system and splitting the nation". To do so
is unjustifiably to put a label on WEI.

WEI is not the first to criticize the Chinese government as autocratic and
despotic and even condemn Mao and his followers, nor is he the last. Many
such critics can be found in Hong Kong, and they are no rarity on the
mainland. Unwarranted imputation of criminal intent, which is typical
false accusation and political persecution, is in nature the same thing as
"literary inquisition" in past dynasties.

WEI's counsel's case in his defense is that "WEI has had no intent of
subverting the government and has done nothing with a view to doing so."
His argument is as sound as it is convincing. However, the court
disdainfully dismissed it, saying, "It is rejected on the grounds that it
is untenable for lack of factual or legal basis." By doing so, the court
rendered virtually non-existent what is called the accused person's right
to defend himself. Furthermore, WEI's trial, said to be open, was
virtually conducted "in camera", for admittance was restricted. The court
wrapped up the trial hastily, and meted out punishment in an outrageously
unreasonable manner. To say such a trial was conducted "in accordance
with the law" would be to make a mockery of justice and common sense.
There is no way WEI can avoid the fate of staying behind the bars.
However, in people's eyes, it is the Chinese government and China's legal
system that have stool on trial.

Articles in this Issue:
  1. Foreign Minister Qian Qichen positive after talks with UK Foreign Secretary Rifkind
  2. China's Legal System on Trial

Other articles this month - WTN Index - Mail the WTN-Editors

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