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Commentary Wrap: Food Safety, Rapist Principal & Undercover Chengguan


June 21, 2013

Editors from the EO's Chinese website publish
 a daily collection of extracts from commentary pieces on topical issues that appear in the mainland press alongside reactions on Sina Weibo. Every Friday, the EO's English team translates a selection of these opinion pieces.

School Principal Rapist Sentenced
Background: Chen Zaipeng (陈在鹏), an elementary school principal in Hainan who was accused of raping his female students in May, has been given a 13-and-a-half year prison sentence. However, discussion of the case didn’t end with the verdict. Many netizens felt the sentence was too light, and since the trial wasn’t public, some have questioned the validity of procedures and the evidence provided by police.  

The problem with this case is that we couldn’t inspect the validity of the trial process. The judges decided to hear the case behind closed doors in order to protect victims who were under 18-years-old. Therefore, we couldn’t make a judgment about the verdict based on evidence or facts, or make an agreement as to whether it was a fair sentence. It’s impossible to debate a closed-door case like this.
- Kunming Time Network [Chinese]

The high efficiency and fair ruling on Chen’s case shows the huge potential that the judicial system has in protecting children from sex abuse in school. Since the public is more aware of the danger, teachers like Chen will only get harsher sentences. Chen’s case should be used as a reference for future verdicts.
- Beijing News

Rationality serves as the foundation of law, which needs to be stable. When a judge is working, he or she should only make decisions based on evidence and laws, not the emotional response from the public or moral standards. If they do so, it will cause harm to the rational legal spirit and stability.
- People’s Daily [Chinese]

Photo: Chen Zaifeng checking into hotel where he allegedly abused his students

Undercover Chengguan
Background: A weibo post recently went viral showing that a Chengguan city management officer in Wuhan’s Hongshan District Urban Management Bureau was working as a street vendor at night selling ceramic mugs in the very area he patrolled for illegal vendors during the day. Later, urban management authorities in Wuhan came forward to say that the man was actually working undercover to experience what it was like to be a street vendor.

Cities need to be tolerant towards vendors who rush about for a living, and Chengguan also need to respect people’s rights and enforce the law impartially. The Chengguan who becomes a street vendor at night is nothing to be afraid of. The dreadful thing is coercion though violence.
- China Business View [Chinese]

Compared to barbaric law enforcement, which is frequently criticized, a Chengguan working at a street vendor's stand perhaps gives a good image and is great advertising. This is also silent support for vendors. Perhaps it will even have an unexpected positive PR effect.
- West China City Daily [Chinese]

Occasionally putting themselves in the shoes of vendors cannot completely change the image of Chengguan. They should put civility and softness into practice during daily law enforcement work, letting the vendors feel the progress of their law enforcement officers.
- Southern Metropolis Daily [Chinese]

Food Safety Law to be Revised
Background: Revision of the Food Safety Law has been scheduled in the State Council’s legislative agenda for 2013. The draft will later be released to seek public opinion on food safety issues.

To improve food safety, we should focus on law enforcement. Only tight law enforcement and supervision can guarantee the safety of food and provide qualified products and services to the public.
- Jinghua Times

The Chinese phrase “Zhong Dian Zhi Luan” (重典治乱) means using severe punishment to deter others and solve a problem during times when social rules and regulations are not obeyed. Applying Zhong Dian Zhi Luan in the field of food safety isn’t only a way to pressure those who break the law, but also a way to fix the lack of supervision in relevant departments. Therefore, increasing the punishment level among officials should be added to the definition of Zhong Dian Zhi Luan.
- Southern Metropolis Daily

Based on the relationship between the government and the market, as well as the principle of the government to rule by law, can we hand over some of the food safety supervision directly to the consumer instead of relying on authorities? For example, we could lower the standards of accreditation and encourage consumers to sue problem companies. Through this way, the public could use their right of supervision and the government would have its load lightened. It would also solve problems like overstaffing (机构臃肿) and rent-seeking (权力寻租) at inspection agencies.
- China Business View
Original articles
: [Chinese]



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