By CHEN GUANGCHENG
Published: May 29, 2012
SINCE I arrived in the United States on May 19, people have asked me, “What do you want to do here?” I have come here to study temporarily, not to seek political asylum. And while I pursue my studies, I hope that the Chinese government and the Communist Party will conduct a thorough investigation of the lawless punishment inflicted on me and my family over the past seven years.
Why, beginning in 2005, did they illegally confine my family and me to our house in Dongshigu Village, cutting us off from all contact with other villagers and the world? Why, in 2006, did they falsely accuse me of damaging property and gathering a crowd to interfere with traffic and then, after farcical trials that excluded my witnesses and defense counsel, send me to prison for 51 months?
The fundamental question the Chinese government must face is lawlessness. China does not lack laws, but the rule of law.
But those protections have been frequently ignored in practice, as they were in my case and in the case of my nephew, Chen Kegui. After the local police discovered my escape from my village in April, a furious pack of thugs — not one in uniform, bearing no search or arrest warrants and refusing to identify themselves — scaled the wall of my brother Guangfu’s farmhouse in the dead of night, smashed through the doors and brutally assaulted my brother.
In real life, however, cases of any significance are controlled at every level of the judicial system by a Communist Party political-legal committee, rather than by legal officials.
This issue of lawlessness may be the greatest challenge facing the new leaders who will be installed this autumn by the 18th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party. Indeed, China’s political stability may depend on its ability to develop the rule of law in a system where it barely exists.