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Commentary Wrap: Black Jails, Online Criticism and Declaring Assets

December 7, 2012
By Song Xiaomeng and Zhu Na

Editors from the EO's Chinese website publish 
a daily collection of extracts from commentary pieces that have appeared in the mainland press over recent days. The EO's English team then translates a selection of these opinion pieces.

False Report on “Black Jail” Sentence

According to media reports, on Dec 2 the Chaoyang District Court in Beijing found 10 people from Chang’ge, Henan guilty of unlawfully intercepting and detaining petitioners. The principal criminal was sentenced to one-and-a-half years in prison with the others received varying sentences. People’s Daily later relayed the official line from Beijing Higher People’s Court and Beijing Choayang District Court that the story was just a rumor and nobody had actually been sentenced.


A distraction that should not be taken into consideration by the laws is to think about the consequences of the courts determining that the detention of petitioners after they have been “intercepted” is unlawful. Such a decision would mean that a large number of “interceptors” would face similar sentencing and the legal system would have to respond to the numerous reports from petitioners about similar cases that had occurred in the past. However, in truth, there is no need to worry about pursuing those who have broken the law. Isn’t allowing crimes to go unpunished more threatening to social stability?
Dongfang Daily (
Original article:

 This false report reflects the public’s wishful thinking. While unlawful interception is being condemned, judicial organs cannot overlook the people’s true will, which is behind this false report. People’s legitimate rights to petition should be protected by judicial and administrative organs together with social supervision.
Beijing Times(京华时报)

Original article: [Chinese]

Any action that violates personal freedom in the form of interception and harms people’s constitutional rights should be stopped by the fair, just and powerful judicial organs in a timely fashion. Proactive judicial organs have the responsibility and obligation to set good examples and explore paths in the battle against interception.
Southern Metropolis Daily (
Original article:

In terms of judicial procedure, it’s a tough task to ascertain and charge the officials involved in this case. Their absence from the judgment seat is disappointing, which shows that a single trial will not shake the tight interception chain.
Yanzhao Metropolis Daily (
Original article:


Seeking Honest Criticism

Introduction: At a Nov 30 symposium hosted by Wang Qishan, the newly-appointed secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the CPC, Wang encouraged delegates to speak out and to tell the truth. He said, “All public opinions from the Internet should be heard, including curses, but even more so, various ideas and suggestions from everyone.”

“Criticism from the Internet” is neither equal to public opinion nor something that needs overall consideration. Listening to “criticism from the Internet” does show tolerance, but how to become good at listening to “neticism” requires certain techniques that cannot be attained unless the authority makes great efforts to comprehend.
China Youth Daily (
Original article:

Whether or not the authorities can listen to and understand public opinion depends on their tolerance. “Criticism is also a productive force.” Accepting criticism makes it easier to interact with the public. With the attitude of “Correcting the mistakes if there are any and keeping a good record if none have been committed,” officials’ correction capability will be improved and the mutual trust between government and people will be enhanced.
Huaxi Metropolis Daily (
Original article:

Taking “neticism” as forthright admonition, calming the public and then making people more satisfied with public governance is the best approach to dealing with Internet public sentiment. It’s also a test for governing capacity in an era when “everyone has a microphone with which to speak out.”
Yangtse Evening Post (
Original article:

 Government should listen more to different opinions, including harsh and nit-picking criticism while making decisions, administrating, demonstrating or checking administration. Listen to both sides and you will be enlightened; heed only one side and you will be benighted. Even listening to the criticism from the Internet sheds light on governmental wisdom.
Legal Daily
Original article:

Views from Sina Weibo Users

@史璞: People are divided into different interest groups and have various means of expression. A statesman must be tolerant and objective. Public opinions can be expressed through rational and well-founded means, as well as harsh and nit-picking ones.

@liushahanlei: This decision makes people eager to speak out and has demonstrated why people have no more patience for report-like speeches, which have existed for years. It shows a firm will.

@西北师大李红: Listen to the words and watch the moves. The change of style or speeches is superficial. The change of system is fundamental. This move can only be called a “change,” not a “reform”!

@胡思华: New leaders’ gestures are fresh and new, but to conduct a real transformation of the old officialdom, leaders setting examples is not enough. To fundamentally resolve this issue, we need to reform officialdom. As Deng Xiaoping said, a good system can bring goodness out from a bad person. What we need now is a good system.

Officials to Declare Assets

Introduction: Recently, Guangdong launched a pilot program that will require party leaders and cadres in two counties and two districts to declare their family's assets and make them public.


Although making public the assets of officials at the grass-roots level produces little effect on the entire anti-corruption system, it does make the voice of people heard to a certain extent and also gives the system a chance to try.
The Economic Observer Online
Original article: [Chinese]

Reform will certainly encounter resistance. But resistance is absolutely not an excuse not to carry out reform. Internationally, there are many successful examples of officials declaring their family assets. It’s illogical that it will fail only in China.
Dongfang Daily (东方早报)
Original article: [Chinese]

Making public the assets of officials has been widely discussed at the “Two Sessions” for many years. Under public pressure, some individual local governments have started it. But the resistance from inside official circles has made it look more like a political performance. The future of declaring assets, in essence, depends on the development of civil society.
Huashang News (华商报)
Original article: [Chinese]


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