Missing Chinese Supreme Court Judge makes Forced TV Confession

CCTV13 today (2019-02-22) aired the 50th known Forced TV Confessions since Xi Jinping came to power. CCTV13’s news program Focus On (共同关注) aired a confession in their evening news broadcast featuring Wang Linqing (王林清), a judge on China’s Supreme Court that went missing on January 3, 2019, and possibly placed into Liuzhi under China’s new National Supervision Commission.

 

The broadcast

The broadcast also viewable on CCTV website here.

 

Updated, latest database (bilingual) on China’s use of Forced TV Confessions can be downloaded as Excel sheet here.

 

Brief background on missing judge

On December 26, 2018, an Intellectual – and former CCTV presenter – Cui Yongyuan exposed news on his weibo, indicating that there was thief inside the Supreme Court, and that files related to 100 billion CNY mineral ownership case had been missing for two years. The post brought great public attention. The next day, the Supreme Court responded that the allegation was a rumor.

 

On December 29, 2018, Cui revealed further evidence through weibo, pointing out the file had been stolen in the judge’s office, and that the judge who handled the mineral case was Wang Linqing (王林清), and released two photos that looked like the missing files. The same day, The Supreme Court admitted the content shown in the photos matched the copy of the file that exists at the Court’s documentation office. Supreme Court stated that they will start an investigation.

 

On December 30, 2018, “China Times” received a video, a testimony video by Wang Linqing (王林清) who serves as a judge of the Supreme Court Civil Trial. In the video, Wang said he made the video for self-protection and released it as evidence in case something happen to him. In the video, Wang exposed two cases of similar nature, one that was about a contract dispute starting back in 2003, and when he was about to write a judgment on it before trial at second instance, the relevant files had all gone missing. Due to the seriousness of the case, he reported it to the court president and asked to check surveillance cameras. The preseident checked it himself and said no one but Wang appeared in it. The next day the camera was broken. Wang said he became very suspicious.

 

 

On January 2, 2019, another Wang Linqing video leaked online, in the video, Wang talked about another case that he was involved in back in 2012, which may be related to his current situation. The case concerned infringement of property rights worth billions of renminbi.  When Wang Linqing handled the case, the president of Supreme People’s Court Supervision Bureau called Wang to report on the case twice, and indicated that one upper leader had a strong concern about the case, and wanted Wang to judge the case to the benefit of one particular party. Wang Linqing refused to do so and reported that this very same party had tried to bribe him. After an unfavorable outcome to the same party, Wang received a threat from this party, saying he would have trouble in the future.

 

In 2014, when Wang Linqing was appointed to hold a lecture in a court in Jiangsu, he was arrested due to an order from higher up, police claiming that he committed a serious crime. Wang was interrogated both in Jiangsu and in a hotel of Beijing. Police didn’t find anything unusual after they went through Wang’s bank account. Eventually, police used the talk he had held as an excuse, and called it an illegal business activity, and seized the income he earned from it and gave him a demerit.

 

Judge Wang was taken to a hotel near the Supreme Court in Beijing for interrogation by investigation team on January 3 and has not been heard from since. On January 9, 2019, Cui Yongyuan made a post on weibo, said had phone call with Judge Wang Linqing Wang sounded fine, but couldn’t meet with Cui yet.

 

 

New developments regarding Chinese state TV broadcaster CCTV/CGTN

Standards complaint to Ofcom for broadcasting known lies and intentional distortions

On February 28, 2019, a complaint will be filed by Safeguard Defenders to the UK’s TV regulator Ofcom, concerning systematic violations of the UK’s rule concerning due impartiality and due accuracy in TV broadcasts (standards section five), calling on Ofcom to investigate the broadcast of known and provable lies and intentional distortions in newscasts. The full complaint uses eight different broadcasts by CCTV/CGTN to show the systematic nature of these violations.

 

>> EMBARGOED COPY OF THE DOCUMENT AVAILABLE FOR INTERESTED MEDIA PARTIES.

Make a request at Info@SafeguardDefenders.com

 

Update on prior, Ofcom Privacy and Fairness complaints

This larger complaint follows four individual complaints made, under Ofcom’s Privacy and Fairness complaint mechanisms, namely Peter Humphrey (November 23, 2018), Angela Gui, on behalf of her missing father Gui Minhai (December 30, 2018), Peter Dahlin (January 7, 2019) and Lam Wing-kee (January 14, 2019).

 

At the time of writing, Ofcom has not issued any decision on whether to launch full and formal investigations based on any of these complaints.

 

Standards complaint with United States TV regulator FCC

A larger complaint has been prepared for the United States Federal Communications Commission regarding CCTV and CGTN in the U.S. FCC, operating with a narrower mandate than Ofcom, has mandate to act only when evidence of broadcast of lies and intentional distortion can be provided. This complaint, 23 pages in length, will do just that. To be filed April, 2019.

 

New documentary by award-winning TV news show on Forced TV Confessions, and those fighting back

On February 21, 2019, the award-winning Al Jazeera show 101 East premiered their newest documentary, made by Lianain Films – who before made the much watched documentary on the missing five Hong Kong Causeway bay booksellers. The film, China’s TV Confessions, documents not only the use of this practice, but is focused on the disparate group of people fighting back against how CCTV and CGTN can participate in making and broadcasting these without scrutiny or penalty across the world. With Safeguard Defenders’ Peter Dahlin, Wang Yu, Teng Biao, Bao Longjun, Angela Gui, Lam Wing-kee, and Peter Humphrey.

 

China’s state media airs another Forced TV Confession

On February 10, 2019, Chinese state media recorded and broadcast another Forced TV Confession, of Uighyr Abdurehim Heyit. This time it was done by CRI – China Radio International, which like CCTV/CGTN, will soon be folded into the new media behemoth ‘Voice of China’. The broadcast, a foreign policy statement responding to Turkish criticism of the situation in Xinjiang, had all the hallmarks of the typical Forced TV Confessions aired by CCTV in the past.

 

New online campaign for TV confessions

Following CRI’s broadcast of a confession by Abdurehim Heyit, a Uighyr long thought dead, there is now a growing call from Uighurs around the world asking the Chinese state to broadcast confessions of their loved ones missing in Xinjiang and its system of camps for arbitrary, unlawful, incarceration.

 

Safeguard Defenders’ Peter Dahlin goes on TV with Chinese ambassador to Sweden to talk about Forced TV Confessions

On February 3, 2019, Swedish current affairs TV program Agenda focused, again, on China’s use of Forced TV Confessions, and invited both the Chiense ambassador (in Chinese) and Peter Dahlin (in Swedish) to be interviewed, although not together or simultaneous. Soon after, February 17, 2019 Angela Gui appeared to discuss the new developments regarding Gui Minhai’s disappearance. The Swedish ambassador to China has now been placed under investigation by SÄPO – Sweden’s security police.

 

The same TV channel – SVT, Sweden’s public TV broadcaster – broadcast an extended seven minutes news segment, with an in-depth interview with Peter Humphrey (in English), on January 28, 2019, part of which can be viewed at the link above.

 

New brief report on disappearances inside China’s detention centers

Safeguard Defenders, through its website for information on Disappearances, RSDLmonitor.com, on February 13, 2019, released a brief paper outlining a new, and as of yet, unreported on, phenomena. The brief paper presents information on how people are disappeared inside the normal judicial process, that is, even after they have been arrested. Many of those victims disappear initially, under RSDL – residential surveillance at a designated location – but as can now be shown, disappear again after their arrest and when placed into detention centers to await trial. The method is as simple as disturbing, as the 25 cases presented in the report shows – in that these victims are signed into the detention facilities under false names. In effect, they disappear, because they seize to exist, as no person with their names exist within the detention centers – leaving family and lawyers unable to locate or access the victims before their trial. Read the brief paper at https://rsdlmonitor.com/hidden-in-detention/ or download it as a PDF. Chinese edition available here.

 

 

 

Hidden in Detention

Hidden in Detention

 

How the CCP disappears its critics, even after arrest

 

This brief paper looks into how critics are effectively disappeared after arrest, while awaiting trial, by police’s use of false names for those placed into pre-trial detention, done by police sometimes with, sometimes without, the detention centers’ knowledge.

Download as pdf: Hidden in Detention – Vanishing Suspects

 

Chinese human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang (王全璋) disappeared not once, not twice, but three times. First, at the start of the 709 crackdown, on July 9, 2015, in which hundreds of human rights defenders around the country were detained, Wang Quanzhang went into hiding. Close to a month later, he was caught and placed into ‘residential surveillance at a designated location’ (指定居所监视居住) (RSDL), his whereabouts unknown. But even after his RSDL ended six month later, after he was arrested and placed into pre-trial detention, he remained disappeared. For more than three years, while awaiting his trial and inevitable guilty verdict, which came abruptly in January 2019, there simply was no Wang Quanzhang in the records of the Chinese detention system. He had simply vanished, again.

 

Wang’s story is not unique. In China, countless human rights defenders have been subjected to the same fate of ongoing disappearance after detention or arrest. Until now, the systematic refusal to acknowledge the fate or whereabouts of the detained person, from the arbitrary denial of access to a lawyer to the outright use of false names to hide the record of detention, has largely gone unnoticed. Based on research into some 25 cases, including interviews with victims, this brief demonstrates the increasingly sophisticated and planned nature of secret detention in China.

 

Enforced disappearances have seemingly exploded under Xi Jinping, through codified (“legalized”) and wholly extrajudicial systems, such as in Xinjiang. The full scope of which is still unknown. In China’s codified systems for disappearing people, RSDL under the 2013 Criminal Procedure Law and ‘Liuzhi’ (留置) under the 2018 National Supervision Commission (国家监察委员会), no figures are published and data related to most cases is kept unreported in the Supreme Court’s database on legal proceedings in China.

 

Alongside these systems, a new form of disappearances has now been identified – suspects vanishing in detention centers after arrest.

 

 

Vanishing Suspects

 

In almost all known cases of using false names when victims are placed under arrest and taken to detention centers to await prosecution and trial, it follows earlier placement into RSDL. In most of those cases, the victim has spent six months incommunicado and in solitary confinement, and with the six months’ time-limit is up, the use of false names is primarily a system for denying them the rights that their arrest would otherwise afford them.

 

The use of false names in pre-trial detention is similar to forcing victims to fire their own lawyers – it’s a step taken to keep them incommunicado, and it’s coerced and not willfully agreed to, as all the victims spoken to have shown.

 

The reason given to the suspects themselves can vary wildly. When police told Zhai Yanmin (翟岩民) that he would from now on be called Zhai Tiancheng (翟天成) police said it was for his own good. For Tang Zhishun (唐志顺), who was named Tang Biao (唐彪), it was both for his own sake and for the good of the people he would be sharing a cell with. For Xie Yanyi (谢燕益) it was to prevent ‘risk’, which was never explained any further. For many people, no reason was given, and whether they had to be registered into their detention center with a false name or not up for debate, and many wouldn’t even argue, realizing the futility of it.

 

Even though some rights defenders, such as Ni Yulan (倪玉兰), and Su Changlan (苏昌兰), and Jia Lingmin (贾灵敏), to mention a few, were arrested right away, for most known victims, the placement into detention centers with false names came after time inside RSDL. A difference may be that the above people were considered local activists, being persecuted by local authorities. This is different from the many victims to follow, most of which were part of the 709 crackdown, coordinated out of Tianjin, targeting lawyers and legal activists specifically. For these victims, related to 709, arrest almost always followed long-term placement into RSDL.

 

For most of the victims in the table below, like with Wang Yu (王宇), who was named Wang Ning (王宁), the name was decided on by the head interrogator. For Dr Liu Sixin (刘四新), named Liu Shunli (刘顺利), his name was told to him during the night before he was taken to the detention center and placed under arrest. Wang Yu was told just as they placed her into the car to take her to her detention center, just like with Xing Qingxian (幸清贤).

 

Other details vary from case to case, but one thing is clear, all the victims are told that their real name must be kept secret, they are instructed not to divulge their real names to the inmates with whom they shared their cell. For many, this would mean living with the false name for at least six months, for some much longer than that. For Wang Quanzhang, who despite being sentenced in January 2018 but still kept incommunicado, he has likely lived with his name for almost three years at the time of writing.

 

Dr Liu Sixin writes in Trial By Media: China’s new show trials, and the global expansion of Chinese media:

 

…I was in the cell when the cell leader told someone to switch over to CCTV13 even though we were not allowed to watch the news. The guards outside were not paying much attention to us. The news reported that Zhai Yanmin had been given a three year suspended sentence. One of the other prisoners in my cell who had been transferred from the same detention center as Zhai said: “That’s Zhai Tiancheng!”

 

Zhai had been given the name Tiancheng when he was locked up, to conceal his real identity. I’d been given a fake name too – Liu Shunli. We were given false names so no one could find us. Technically, there was no one called Liu Sixin in my cell. I was not allowed to disclose my real name even to my cellmates.

 

Most victims, when analyzing how they were ‘checked-in’ into the detention centers, think that only the police in charge of their cases before arrest were aware, and that detention center staff were not informed or told that the name used was fake. They were all told to keep their real names from detention center staff. Almost everyone says they did at some point tell at least one other inmate their real name, but were cautious to discuss it if any detention center staff were nearby. When the guards found out that Su Erqi (苏二七) was actually Su Changlan, and that she had been placed into the Nanhai detention center in Foshan, Guangdong, under a false name, it became a joke for the guards, a way to ridicule Su.

 

The use of false names seems to be related to two issues, namely keeping the victims unable to be reached by his or her lawyer, and denying access or even knowledge of whereabouts to the victims’ family. As such, the underlying purpose is to keep the victim incommunicado. Considering that the incommunicado and disappearance aspect seems to be key to the CPP, as can be seen in RSDL, in Liuzhi, and in mass disappearances in Xinjiang, and that the normal criminal procedure does not afford them the right to do this after people’s arrest, it is likely this new method will appear more frequently in higher profile cases, especially when victims have first been placed into RSDL – as by using false names in detention center, police effectively get the same level of control of the victim that the RSDL system affords them.

 

With disappearance in detention centers, with the victims’ whereabouts unknown to family, friends or for that matter, anyone within the judicial system itself except the police officers in charge of the suspects’ investigation, China has now launched yet another attack on law, and found a new system for disappearing rather than detaining its critics.

 

 

Background: From RSDL to Liuzhu

 

Despite growing resistance to RSDL, in 2018 the promulgation of the National Supervision Law and National Supervision Commission led to the establishment of a new system for custody during such investigations – Liuzhi. Unlike RSDL, which is applied most frequently to lawyers, journalists, and other critics, the Liuzhi system is aimed at party members, state workers, and functionaries related to China’s vast state-controlled system of schools, hospitals, state-owned enterprises and research institutes. Like RSDL, Liuzhi can last for up to six months, but since Liuzhi is managed with no involvement by police nor prosecutor, those kept in Liuzhi are given even less protections than what’s afforded in RSDL. Like RSDL, it is a system for mass disappearances.

 

The NSC is an enforcement body independent of the police and prosecutor, supposedly to investigate economic crimes and corruption within party- and state organs or its functionaries. Only rarely does such investigations, and the incommunicado detentions that is part of it, lead to prosecution. For most, their investigation and custody inside Liuzhi is the punishment itself. Since the system directly follows and continues that of the party’s internal system, ever since the 1970s, it is easy to recognize that the true aim is political control and effective control over its vast bureaucracy, where corruption is but one possible crime.

 

Before its establishment, a similar system already existed for party members, but with the establishment of the NSC, the scope of its mandate, from 90 million party members, will increase somewhere between 200% and 500% based on pilot schemes run in select provinces the year before launching. In 2017 some near half a million ‘investigations’ were launched, a number likely to at least double to about 1 million, based on growth since 2013 and the set expansion in the scope of their mandate. No statistics on how many are placed into Liuzhi, or its predecessor system – Shuanggui (双规) – exist, but a noted Chinese academic earlier estimated that maybe 10-20% end up in custody[1]. If so, the system alone will likely be responsible for well over 100,000 disappearances annually.

 

While China has expanded its legislative powers to disappear its citizens, in Xinjiang the state has implemented a terrible campaign of mass disappearances on a scale perhaps unknown anywhere else in the world. Over a million, mainly Uyghur and Kazakh Muslims have, without any legal proceedings, been placed into a vast system of concentration camps. Many are taken from the streets or their homes and placed into these camps, without time limits, without acknowledgment or communication with their family, amounting to enforced disappearances.

 

 

For more information on Disappearances

 

The most authoritative resource on the use of RSDL, with exhaustive domestic and international law analysis, alongside victim testimonies, can be found in The People’s Republic of the Disappeared: Stories from inside China’s system for enforced disappearances.

 

A Chinese language edition is available for free as pdf on RSDLmonitor.com, and likewise available as paperback on Amazon worldwide.

 

In addition, Trial By Media, a new book which focuses on the use of Forced TV Confessions and collaboration between CCTV and police in extracting and producing such, likewise includes information on disappearances.

 

A briefer report on the new National Supervision Commission and its Liuzhi system, From Central Control to National Supervision, has also been released. Submissions regarding RSDL for UN reviews, as well as other types of materials, is regularly posted on RSDLmonitor.com.

 

 

[1] https://rsdlmonitor.com/new-report-central-control-national-supervision/