Understanding the Chinese Justice System, 2013

Driven by a sense of futility with the Chinese justice system and willing to kill himself and others, motorcycle taxi driver Ji Zhongxing went to the Beijing Airport from his home town of Heze, Shandong Province and tried to blow himself up with a home made bomb. Seemingly a rare occurrence of such cases in China, was this guy just a crackpot that blew his lid, or does this point to a deeper and troubling issue in Chinese society? Let us consider the Chinese perspective.

Firstly I doubt that this was an impulsive move from Mr. Ji, as he was a paraplegic that had to transport himself from his home town in Shandong Province to Beijing. This was no small feat. No, this required a great deal of pain, suffering, effort and money to do this trip. There was significant thought that went into his plan.

While we do not know and will never know the actual details of Mr Ji’s situation, we do know that there was an altercation in Dongguan, Guangdong Province, where Mr Ji was beaten up by a group of individuals so badly that it left him a paraplegic. He has complained and filed a grievance to the government over 8 years ago and there has been no outcome as yet. Mr Ji then tried to blow himself up at the Beijing Airport, severely hurting himself in the process.

There is a historical precedent to Mr Ji going to Beijing to Beijing to plead his case, though it is ancient. China’s emperors have had a long tradition of allowing the people to present themselves to the Emperor in order to plead their case. The Emperor would make a ruling. This was seen as a last ditch effort of righting an injustice. With nothing else to lose the people’s fate was in the Emperor’s hands, either good or bad. If the Emperor ruled his people fairly he would have good luck and be able to feed is people. If the Emperor ruled badly great catastrophes would occur and topple the Emperor.

Today’s Chinese Communist Part pays lip service to this tradition, professing to allow the people to file their protests, but in actual fact, arrests them either en route to Beijing or puts them into “black jails” before they are able to formally submit their protest. That police arrest protesters en route to Beijing occurs very often and is commonplace. They are either arrested in their home town if authorities get word that someone is planning on making the trip, at the local train station, or en route on the train to Beijing. Upon arrival to Beijing they can be arrested by Beijing police and thrown into “black jails”, officially unauthorized jails, where protesters may wait until the police department of their locale can pick them up and escort them back to their home. This is also very commonplace and got a lot of publicity during the 2008 Olympics. These occurrences are not unique.

There have been a couple of cases where foreigners have been detained in these “black jails” and not allowed access to their consulates, family or friends. Once release these foreigners have written about their accounts.

The Chinese Communist Party codifies their behaviour into law, where the law protects the state and Communist Party against the people, and not the other way around. It is difficult for Westerners to understand that the law is there to protect the state, and not the people, but this is a key principle to keep in mind when analyzing legal cases in China. I would not say that this philosophy is wrong, it is just not Western. Who is to say that law should follow the Western bias?

The state of the Chinese system is that however Mr Ji was wronged, he may never get justice as defined in the Western sense. Whatever happened to Mr. Ji in Dongguan, there must have been some reason why he was beaten up and we will never know this. He infringed into someone’s territory and was beaten up. He was a migrant worker in Dongguan and technically was illegally working, which means he has even less legal rights than the low level of legal rights of regular Chinese civilians. The life of migrant workers, as I have written before, is a tenuous at best, and they are treated as second class citizens.

Now that Mr Ji has thrust China into the spotlight of international news, it is only just, in the Chinese sense, to punish him for tarnishing the name of China. I am sure he will be punished even more than his own wounds. He has no money to pay for his hospital stay, much less recuperation. To spare his life one might say that Mr. Ji has tested the security system of the Beijing Airport, as unable to gain access to a sensitive area and only hurt himself. This may only show that Mr. Ji was an incompetent bomb maker and suicide bomber.

China’s security system inside China used to control Chinese people is extremely sophisticated. I would doubt that many of these cases will be exposed to the West in the future. Nothing much will change in China’s legal system. Those that seek to file a complaint will get beaten up, jailed,deported back to their province and receive hard labour, defense lawyers will be sent to jail, those that have connections will continue to support this system and the Communist Party will retain power. One cannot change such a system with such individual cases such as with Mr. Ji.

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