Watch out for Mr. Yong when you read about law on Wechat

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This content cannot be read; Yong Hu (user) has complained, discovered this content violates law, regulations, and policy

Those reading about China’s social media in English have been mesmerized by articles summarizing the recently published and impressive study of the pro-government “fifty cent army” on Weibo by Professor Gary King of Harvard’s Institute for Quantitive Social Science and coauthors Professors Jennifer Pan and Margaret Roberts from Stanford and the University of California, San Diego.  However, according to the numbers, the focus of China’s social media has very much shifted to Wechat (Weixin).  According to statistics from April, 2016, the number of Wechat active users has grown to 650 million, while the number of Weibo active users at the same time was about 261 million.  Wang Dong, author of a popular (and prize-winning) legal Wechat public account CU检说法 (with a day job at the Suzhou Procuratorate), recently pointed out that a “Mr. Yong” poses a threat to Wechat readers.

Wang Dong posed the question “who is that guy Yong (用)?”  “Every time Yong Hu (用户) (user) complains about the content in an article, it disappears.” Wang Dong asked further:

Who is this guy “用户”? He certainly does not like to stand on a podium to debate with people, perhaps because of stuttering, but more likely because he really does not have that kind of scholarship, does not know what to say, and perhaps, after he says a few words and omits words and is ridiculed, the crowd of helpless laughter causes him to retreat back.

So, the easiest way is hiding in the shadows, lurking, lurking, lurking silently, silently recording  his hate in every move and every word of the people, to analyze these articles, from which to find  “segments of illegal content.”

Perhaps Professor King and coauthors can now turn their attention to Mr. Yong and his army of Wechat lurkers, to assist us in understanding what made Mr. Yong and his army of lurkers complain about 200,000 items on Wechat in 2015 and cause 120,000 Wechat public accounts to be penalized.

 

 

 

Accessing Chinese criminal law legal developments via Wechat (updated)

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defense counsel in a Beijing court

This brief blogpost, updated with content on the 18 April judicial interpretation on corruption offenses, supplements my earlier blogpost on legal Wechat public accounts.

Defender (辩护人), one of the leading criminal law Wechat public accounts recently published a list of the most widely read Wechat criminal law Wechat public accounts with user statistics (as of 15 April).

Given that criminal law is more sensitive that commercial law in China, posts that relate to more difficult topics sometimes disappear.

Some of the most useful posts in recent days relate to the 18 April judicial interpretation on corruption offenses.  Several posts package the judicial interpretation together with the statement by officials from the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) and Procuratorate (SPP)–that statement gives important background information about the legislative history and intent of the drafters. Related posts put the interpretation into chart form, providing easy reference to all participants in the criminal justice system.  As might be expected, more sensitive analyses may disappear, such as this one An analysis  by Si Weijiang, a well known defense lawyer. A PDF version can be found here, so that readers may judge for themselves (斯伟江 • 迟来量刑标准调整:反腐高压下的调整).

Within the past week, this one was published, setting out the legal basis and jurisdiction of departments of the public security authorities to open a file (立案) and begin an investigation.  One of the departments focuses on anti terrorism (反恐怖部门), authorized to open a file for seven different crimes.

In March of this year, at the “Two Meetings,” Zhu Lieyu spoke out in favor of removing detention houses (where pre-trial suspects are held), from the jurisdiction of the public security authorities. Recent posts on some of these criminal law public accounts include one listing the titles, location, and telephone numbers of  detention houses in Zhejiang Province, and an earlier one in Defender with an open letter from 37 Yunnan lawyers drawing attention to the poor conditions in several detention houses in Kunming for defense counsel to meet with clients.

Other posts call attention to cases or categories of cases that might otherwise escape public attention, such as Chen Yichao, a Gansu company executive accused of corruption, and tried in recent days, whose assets were seized by the authorities and transferred to the personal accounts of the procuratorate and Party disciplinary officials investigating his case (in violation of relevant regulations) (and an analogous case from Anhui) as well as an article from a court website questioning the punishment of petitioners for extorting the government, and a judgment by the Jiangsu Higher People’s Court in re-trial proceedings overturning the conviction of a petitioner for extortion.  Another post that must be read is this one, about (former) officials from the justice system who have been tortured.

Another recent post lists embezzlement cases decided since Criminal Law Amendment (9) became effective, with the court, amount embezzled, and sentence.

For the many persons inside and outside of China who are trying to understand China’s anti-corruption system, these public accounts provide valuable information on what happens as cases go from Party disciplinary investigation to the procuratorate to court, and the arguments defense lawyers are making on behalf of their clients,including the exclusion of evidence obtained by torture.